I’m more of a Neanderthal than you are…

Well, probably. Statistically speaking…

Yes, I got my results back from 23andMe today! And that’s one of the headlines: “Hey Brad!
You have more Neanderthal DNA than 61% of other customers.”

And I’m not a bit insulted, as I will explain. In fact, on receiving the news, I played a bit to the stereotype of my people, taking my phone over to my wife (who gave me the new DNA kit for Christmas) and saying “Uhn!” Then pointing clumsily to the screen with my prehistoric finger, and elaborating, “Errg, uhn, uhn!

But they were grunts of pride.

You see, the Neanderthal thing is one of the reasons I wanted 23andMe — Ancestry doesn’t give you that.

I will of course in the coming days bore you no end with details as I find them, but for today, here are the top three highlights:

  1. The Neanderthal thing. Actually, less than 2 percent of my DNA comes from this human species that went extinct 40,000 years ago. That’s why 23andMe leads with the 61 percent comparison. More impressive. But let me get started on defending my peaceful people, who were minding their own business, comfortably wrapped in furs in Northern Europe after the last Ice Age, when you people came sweeping up from down South and wiped us all out — after a slight bit of, well, socializing, which led to that little bit of DNA that remains. Anyway, something you should know: You call yourselves “sapiens.” But Neanderthals had bigger brains. Look it up.
  2. The breaking of the Great White Wall. Not the smashing of it, I suppose, but at least a crack or two. You know how Ancestry has been telling me for years and years that I’m the whitest white boy at Bypass High? Well, while 23andMe agrees that I’m 99.8 percent Northwestern European, I have finally found a bit of variety in my heritage. And not just, say, Italian. To find out what I am, I have to click on the “Trace Ancestry” button, which tells me I’m… a tenth of a percent Somali! Which is way cool. No, I don’t think I’m going to be able to convince people to consider me a “person of color,” and they’re still going to hold me responsible for that my Viking and Norman and English and white American ancestors did. And it gives me little in common with most African-Americans, who tend to be from West Africa. But hey, it’s something…
  3. No answer on the Scottish Question. As you know, I’ve been marveling at the way Ancestry keeps recalculating my ethnicity, and for whatever reason deciding I’m more and more Scottish. Which has puzzled me no end — although I have been noticing more and more ancestors who are indeed of the Caledonian persuasion (such as the lady accused, quite unfairly I might add, of being a witch). So I was hoping my second DNA test might shed a little light on the matter from a different perspective. Alas, the perspective was too different. This service slices the pie so differently that I can’t make a clear comparison. Ancestry says I’m 27 percent English and Northwestern European, 8 percent Irish, 7 percent Welsh, and a whopping 47 percent Scottish. 23andMe says I’m 92.3 percent “British and Irish,” and doesn’t seem to breakdowns of that big number in a way that I can compare. Oh, well.

Of course, the main thing to me is the DNA matches to real people. I got into this years ago to help with building my family tree, so that’s what I’ll mostly be concentrating on as I study these results. Some of my relatives (such as my mother and brother) have done Ancestry DNA. Some others (such as three of my kids and two of my grandchildren) have gone the 23andMe route. I’m going to enjoy cross-referencing all those cousins and such to fill out and understand my tree better. That’s the main point.

So far, I haven’t looked much at the health or traits stuff. I figure at my age, if I’m going to get something because of my genes, I’ve probably got it already…

2 thoughts on “I’m more of a Neanderthal than you are…

  1. DougT

    I’m more Neaderthal than 53% of those tested. 23&me put some things behind a subscription fee (common relatives etc). I gave up on 23&me for any family tree help.

    Ancestry, for distant relatives is really doesn’t show many common relatives at all. I uploaded my DNA to GEDMatch. Where Ancestry gave me and another relative 3 common kin, GEDMatch showed 170 common relatives. There’s people on GEDMatch from all the DNA sites.

    Check out GEDMatch. Most of it’s free, but I upgraded for a much smaller fee thatn Ancestry subscription.

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