February 28: On This Day in History
In 1953, on February 28th, the chemical structure of DNA was discovered at Cambridge University by James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick. Their announcement included that they had determined that the double helix structure of DNA, the molecule that contains human genes. Deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA for short, was actually discovered in 1869, its actual role in determining genetic inheritance wasn’t demonstrated until 1943. Several scientists competed throughout the 1950’s to unlock the secret of the structure of DNA. Watson and Crick determined that it consisted of two parallel spirals of DNA strands, each one containing a long chain of monomer nucleotides wound around each other. Watson published his best-selling book, The Double Helix, in 1968.
This discovery changed the study of biology and medicine, as well as forensics. As a sidelight, it also created a fascinating tool for genealogical research. DNA can determine lineage or country of origin. It can solidify relationships or rule them out.
Several of our clients have used DNA technology to assist in their quest for their ancestry. At Heritage Consulting, we recommend FamilyTreeDNA.com to our clients. They perform all three genealogically relevant DNA tests: Y-DNA, mtDNA (mitochondrial), and autosomal, which they call Family Finder. Y-DNA traces male to male to male lineage. FamilyTreeDNA.com has a large database of Y-DNA results which are grouped in surname studies. Mitochondrial DNA testing follows the female to female to female lineage. Autosomal, or Family Finder, gives a general DNA pattern of origin, and can match up test subjects with relatives who have also tested. When those relatives have submitted their documented pedigrees to the website, then breakthroughs can be made. FamilyTreeDNA.com allows test subjects to upload their results to other DNA testing companies, but other companies do not reciprocate. That’s another reason we recommend FamilyTreeDNA.com.
Check out our other blog posts about DNA testing and what our clients discovered through it!
Raquel Lindaas, AG®