Vol. 2 No. 3 Mar 2009
From the Director - The Ins and Outs of Creative Haplogroup Names
Sometimes you will see a message posted on a DNA mailing list that
begins with: "I tested with so and so company and they say, "I am a Viking",
or "I am an Artisan", or "I am an Oisin", or "I am part of Clan Ursula" and so
on. But if you are new to genetic genealogy or you have not checked out
several DNA company websites, you may be left scratching your head
wondering what these names and labels mean.
Creative haplogroup naming systems probably began with Bryan Sykes'
bestselling book, "The Seven Daughters of Eve" published in 2001. In the
book, Sykes assigns female given names to mitochondrial haplogroups
based on the letter that the haplogroup begins with. Thus, haplogroup U
became "Ursula". This creative naming system became widely successful
and if you google many of the names, you will find websites compiled
about the different "clans". However, the success of these names is
primarily limited to the names of the "seven daughters" (which are seven
mtDNA haplogroups found in Europe). The names that he gave other lines
haven't really caught on. There are two for my haplogroup which are
"Nuo" and "Naomi" and while I have a good guess as to which is my branch,
it would not be clear-cut to a newcomer. Other names are probably too
complicated to remember or pronounce like "Djigonasee".[p 275]
Sykes deviated from the name equals corresponding haplogroup letter
in his 2006 book, "Blood of the Isles" (renamed "Saxons, Vikings, and Celts"
for the North American market) which covers Y-chromosome haplogroups
in Britain. Instead, he assigned names based on different heritage groups
found within a haplogroup. So the Western European R1b became Oisin,
while Nordic R1a is Sigurd.1 This naming system hasn't come into mainstream
use like its European mitochondrial counterpart.
But what has caught on is the trend for DNA companies to label and
then associate a particular haplogroup with a given historical tribe or ethnicity.
This method is likely employed to help people understand or have an affinity
for their deep ancestral haplogroup origins. There is a caveat to this system
though and it is this; just because a company indentifies you as [insert creative
name here] does not mean your Y-chromosome or mitochondrial ancestors
actually were in this particular tribe or group. It only means that members of
the tribes or groups are presently believed to have been abundant in that
For example, I have a friend who is Y-haplogroup E1b (formerly E3b). This
branch of E appears in Britain and has been linked broadly to the Balkans and
more specifically to the Thracians.2 There is some historical basis, independent
of genetics, to conclude Thracians entered Britain during the Roman period as
soldiers. Does this mean that my friend's ancestors were Thracians? Were all
Thracians E1b? That seems unlikely. E1b can be found throughout Europe and
present day theories of its dispersal during or even after the Neolithic age remain
just that; theories largely reliant on mathematical computations. My friend's
ancestry traces to Portugal and not Britain so, while it's possible his Y carrying
ancestor was Thracian in the service of Rome, it is equally likely he was Roman,
Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek or some other group to which we today ascribe
an ethnic or tribal identity. .
So something to keep in mind when you receive your haplogroup results:
Try to learn as much as possible about your haplogroup before you start
a sentence with "I am".
ISOGG Y-DNA Haplogroup Tree
Y-Haplogroup Projects and Websites
mtDNA Haplogroup Projects
1Geographic patterns of Haplogroup R1b in the British Isles
2Haplogroup E3b1a2 as a Possible Indicator of Settlement in
Roman Britain by Soldiers of Balkan Origin
The DNA Toolkit is a new feature to share online tools which help you make
the most of your DNA results.
Mutation Rate Calculator - Developed by Ann Turner in 2002 as a tool which
calculates an "expected" number of mutations that can occur between descendants
of a common ancestor. See Charles Kerchner's diagram for an example of
counting transmission events. (NOTE: The Mutation Rate Calculator is an .exe file
and your virus software may issue a warning before opening. It is ok to open though.)
The Long Surname DNA Project
Bill Long, Administrator of the Long DNA Project, was nominated as an outstanding
administrator by his Co-Administrator, Barbara Long. From Barbara's nomination
submission, "Bill is readily available plus answers e-mails quickly and timely. He is
faithful to include myself (as co-administrator) in any e-mails he sends to our group
or emails of any discussions. He is up to date on all data and very knowledgeable, if
a question arises, Bill will find the answer.
Bill encouraged myself to join the ISOGG and does recruiting. During the times he
is gone for several days, Bill remembers to inform the co-administrator. Our site is
improving consistently, and he is good to delegate duties such as regularly checking
the links to our site. Most importantly, Bill has a kind and professional online
personality.Our LONG DNA site is so very fortunate to have a great administrator."
DNA in the News
Union of genealogy and genetics saving lives
- The Salt Lake Tribune - 27 Mar 2009
DNA reveals story of dad's disappearance
- The News & Observer - 23 Mar 2009
Mystery solved as tests prove Tsar's entire family was murdered
- The Independent - 11 Mar 2009
For more articles:
NEW ISOGG page - Personal Genome Tests
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