My Genetic Ancestry


Ryan Sommas Paternal DNA Results

Ryan Somma’s
Paternal DNA Results

I participated in the Genographic Project last year, an ongoing effort to chart the migration of the human race across the earth using DNA testing. It was $110 for the kit, which is a bit pricey, but I was curious and glad I did it. After processing the results of my submitted DNA (Mailed-In Cheek Cells), they posted the results online.

I, and my siblings, belong to Haplogroup J2 (M172) surrounding the Mediterranean. As my father is purebred Italian, I assume we are descendent of the “20 percent of males in southern Italy that carry the marker.”

M168 > M89 > M304 > M172

These markers can be traced on National Geographic’s interactive atlas of human migrations.

Ryan Sommas Paternal Genetic Journey

Ryan Somma’s
Paternal Genetic Journey

There’s a bit of poetic justice in this revelation. As my father used to tell us about how Italians joke Sicilians for their negro ancestry from when the Moors occupied southern Italy and called them “Eggplant” as a racist derogatory term. Now, thanks to the beauty of genetic testing, we know that we are Euron—-rs too!

The application then charts our your ancestors migrations into a storyline. Each haplogroup is described in terms of its age, location, number of homo sapiens in existence, tool use, archeological evidence, as well as what their existence was like.

The researchers trace mutations in the Y-chromosome, because it gives them one gene to trace and the rare mutations that occur in that gene provide markers in the migrational history of homo sapiens. At least, that’s how it was offered at first. You can now choose whether you want your paternal or maternal genetic history.

What this means is that I was only getting one-half of my genetic story. So the person who contributed the other half of my DNA ordered a kit online…


In order to find out where the other half of my genes come from, my mother decided to take the test as well. I suspected our “West Virginia Mutt” genes would be met with “DOES NOT COMPUTE” by their testing equipment, but despite the familial legends of Native American, English, Irish, and African American ancestry, we got the following result:

Ryan Sommas Maternal Genetic Journey

Ryan Somma’s
Maternal Genetic Journey

Ancestral Line: “Eve” > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R > pre-HV > HV > H

Hmmm… No evidence of a Native American ancestry that would require our ancestors’ migrations wrap around the entire Earth to end on the North American east coast. Because we are only tracing my mother’s maternal DNA, we were only getting half of my Mother’s genetic story, that of my grandmother’s.

With my first genetic test, I really only had one-fourth of the story, with my mother’s I now had one-half–but no, I don’t have anywhere near that much. Obtaining my paternal and maternal grandmother’s DNA would further clarify things, but then I would only have one-half of my both my grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ genetic story. I would need their mothers’ and fathers’ and their mothers’ mothers’ and fathers’ fathers’ and so on.

So there’s an exponentially increasing amount of DNA testing required to flesh out all of the nuances in my genetic ancestry–to a point. We know that humans must have engaged in a great deal of inbreeding over history as there aren’t enough ancestors to go around. According to the genographic project, there were only 10,000 homo sapiens starting out of Africa 50,000 years ago. There are 6.5 billion now on Earth. These historical facts cannot accommodate the exponential growth of ancestors for each of us without inbreeding.

As interesting as it would be to go one level further in discovering my ancestors’ migrations, the task of exhuming my four grandparents to obtain their DNA seems cost prohibitive, and really it would only make me even more curious. So that I might start entertaining the possibility of exhuming my eight great-grandparents… 16 great-great-grandparents… 32 great-great-great-grandparents… etc. etc.

I think I’ll try to be content with what I’ve got, and maybe take up the hobby of genealogy if I can’t settle down my mind.

See also Family Tree DNA and mitosearch for using your Genographic DNA results to enhance your Genealogical research. I haven’t explored this yet, so maybe in a future post I’ll cover it.






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