Wednesday, November 11, 2009

DNA used to search family trees


Here's a fun exercise: Compare the DNA profiles of random individuals who reside in different regions of the world, have little in common and don't much resemble one another.

If you could do this, you'd find close DNA matches once in a while.

About three months ago Kevin Shepherdson, a Eurasian in Singapore, discovered that his DNA matches strongly with Thomas Kurowski, a man of Polish descent living in Rhode Island.

The men have never met, and they were unaware of each other.

Both of them research their family history as a hobby, but finding each other through traditional methods (such as sifting through census, marriage or property records) would have been unlikely if not impossible.

And yet their DNA profiles match so closely that they can be certain of sharing a common ancestor within the past six generations. It took scientific sleuthing for the two men to make a connection.

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