Sunday, May 22, 2016

They Made Me That Way

Recently I passed a pet store that had a great big sign in front stating they sold "designer" puppies. Yes, that is a term now being used for puppies that are hybrids of two or more species of purebred dogs,  which by the way, make for ADORABLE puppies. While these "mixes" might have been called mutts in another time, that word is probably quite offensive to the canines of the world in this enlightened age. We, humans surely have evolved to the point we are watching what negative slurs we sling toward our doggy friends. The reason I am bringing this up is that I now will be referring to myself as a "designer human being".
This would be me in my native Sardinian dress.
Yes, today I will be speaking of evolution.  Did I mention that hubby and I sent off our saliva to a company to get our DNA tested? No, we weren't trying to prove or disprove that our kids belong to both of us and verify they are the only two children either of us are responsible for.  I know this probably shouldn't have to be pointed out,  but judging by all the daytime programs that have cropped up to check out "who the baby daddy is or isn't", evidently this is a gray area for a lot of people.

As far as parentage goes...I seem to have a lot of unknowns. I didn't expect any major surprises in my DNA results but growing up I never had the opportunity to ask questions related to my heritage.  My poor unfortunate hubby got to go along for the bumpy ride of me tracking down my biological mother when I was in my early 20's.  That was before computers and I can't begin to tell you how difficult it is to track down a mother in particular.  Females by the very nature of how "surnames" work load the deck in a very negative way if you don't know what the heck their last name might be. Perhaps, at some point I will do a complete post about that process or the day I met her at the bus station only to realize, I had NO idea what she looked like.  HMMM..thousands of people milling around the bus terminal and yet no earthly idea what she looked like at her current age.  (I had a picture of her in her youth.) Obviously, luck was on my side and I figured it out.  The rest of the visit went downhill in a hurry. Ahh but another story for another day. I was saying...We sent our saliva off to a company named 23 and Me for genetic testing. We figured it would be interesting and potentially give us more material to tease each other with.  I was fully prepared for this to give hubby the upper hand on "teasing material" as his family goes back multiple generations in the Netherlands.  Both of his parents were from the Netherlands and he still had family there when we got married. I, on the other hand, assumed I must be some sort of a descendant of Scottish and Irish heritage because of my maiden surname and my mother's maiden surname were Irish and Scottish respectively.  Past that...not a clue.

The results came in a couple of weeks ago and we are making our way through the reports. We added an extra layer to our reports because we sent the raw DNA data files to another company called Promethease.  Over at Promethease they take the raw data and further read about any variants you have in your DNA.  Without writing a whole thesis on genetics...which by-the-way, would be impossible as I am not a geneticist, I will tell you that basically that report will tell a person what medical conditions they might have "markers" for and how their DNA mutations might respond to various pharmaceuticals.

As for the results...My husband is 100 percent Western European. BUT, in fact, he is only 99.4 percent Dutch.  It did turn out that there was  a little British, French, German and Scandinavian in that .6 hanging out there.  It, also, comes to light that all of that assorted DNA came from his mother's side of the family. Guess someone went rogue out of the Netherlands way back when.  Surely they didn't understand how cool of place that was going to turn out to be. 

As far as my results go.... I am actually quite surprised to find that I am 99.2 percent Western European.  While some of it is just listed as "broadly" northwestern European, I can live with that. (like I get a choice)  Perhaps "my people" were so inbred that the DNA can't even be sorted more definitively than that. The actual report shows me as  40.2 percent British/Irish, 30 percent Broadly Northwestern Europe, 14.8 percent French and German, 10.5 Scandinavian,  2.9 Southern European, .7 West African, .1 Broadly Sub-Saharan African, .6 Iberian and .2 Sardinian.

As for my variants, I don't seem to be a carrier for much in the way a major health issues.  I carry a gene for fructose intolerance.  Yes, while others deal with having markers for horrible diseases such as cancer and heart disease,  I might give my descendants the inability to eat apples.  Nowhere on the report does it address my inability to drink alcohol due to alcohol intolerance so I am not clear if that has a genetic component...or maybe I haven't found the right tab on the report that talks about it yet.  I am sure at least some of my future family members will be hoping that isn't genetically transmitted. does say that I have the genetic ability to smell asparagus in urine and taste a "bitter" taste in cilantro.  Good to know, huh?

Another little bit of a surprise was that the test came back that there are 290 variants in my DNA that have a link to Neanderthals from the Neanderthal Valley of Germany give or take about 50,000 years ago.   So now when I see pictures of some of the assorted "bits and pieces" that have been excavated,  I can say that just might be my great-great-great-great-great-great (times 250 or something like that) ...grandfather.
I see the family resemblance.

One of the other things that I can't blame my "genes" on...I don't seem to carry a gene for obesity so if I would ever gain weight it is strictly ON ME both figuratively and literally.

So there you have my little excursion into the genetic pool.  Do you know where your ancestors hailed from ?  Are you linked to kings or heroes...or ordinary cavemen that helped start a race of people that still are walking the earth millions of years later? If you came out of the Neanderthal Valley, maybe you and I are cousins 250 times removed.

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