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DNA Traces Our Earliest Roots

Modern advances in science can help you trace your family to it's earliest beginnings - by Surname Finder Staff.

Tracing your family tree one usually follows the patriarchal line identified by the surname of our male ancestors, but new developments in DNA patterns are showing us how to trace the matriarchal line to the very beginning of our roots. Researchers have found that mitochondria DNA (DNA only passed on by females) can be the key to our earliest roots. Mitochondria DNA lives inside human cells but outside the nucleus and remains largely unchanged between generations. In contrast, the male Y-chromosomes are destroyed at fertilization.

Researchers from Oxford University in Oxford, England, have identified 18 distinct ancestral matriarchal groups from which we all descend. Each one of these clans represents a roots from which all persons evolved. Each of these groups represents a specific strain of mitochondria DNA. These women lived between 8,000 to 50,000 years ago and theoretically identify distinctive clans from which we all descend. 

The 18 Daughters of One Genetic Eve

The moniker for the strains, as defined by Dr. Sykes is the 18 Daughters of Eve.  Each one of these Daughters is descended from one Eve that originated in Africa some .  The following is a brief description of the mitochondria strain classification:

Geographical Region Mitochondria Type
American Indian A,B,C,D
European H,J,K,T,U,V,X
Asian M,E,F,G
African L1,L2,L3

The 7 European Daughters of Eve

The theory presented by Dr. Sykes is that all Europeans descended from one of the seven Daughters of Eve.  They are each named from the mitochondria type they possess.

Name Origin
Helena The Pyrenees mountains on the border between France and Spain
Katarine Venice in the area of the Swiss Alps
Tara Tuscany - eventually migrated  across the English Channel.
Ursula Found across all of Europe.
Valda Migrated from Spain to Finland and Norway
Jasmine Syria
Xena The Caucasus Mountains between Turkey and Russia.

The Type X pattern is rare among Europeans, but is sometimes found among Native Americans suggesting migration through northern Russia to the Americas.

The African Daughters

The African Daughters all share a single main lineage from Lara which is divided into three main branches.  The youngest branch, L3, is common in East Africa and is believed to be the source of both Asian and European mitochondria types. 

Finding Your Mitochondria Type

True to internet culture there is a company that will tell you your mitochondria type.  The test involves sending in a sample of cells brushed from the inside of the cheek.  The test is a bit pricey at $180.00, but they offer "group" discounts and are managed by Oxford University.  You can visit their web site here.

If you have a pleasant or poor experience with this type of testing, please write us and tell us about it.

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