Looking at DNA from someone who knows absolutely goddam nothing.

If you don’t do genealogy ignore this post.  Also, I’m not a reporter so this is just a blog I wrote at lunch.  Not a fact-checked news story.  Please don’t ask me DNA questions because I don’t know what the shit I’m doing.  I didn’t even spell-check this because I have a deadline on something else I’ve been procrastinating but if I don’t write this now I’ll forget.


I am a bit addicted to genealogical searches.  I’ve traced some family members as far back at the 1600’s and (if records can be believed) I have in my family a wide range of reprobates, farmers, immigrants, traveling preachers, prisoners, and a Native American chief who was famous for putting curses on people.  But of course records can’t really be believed because everyone has in their family a hidden adoption, or a child that wasn’t by the person they claimed it was by, or someone who changed their identity for some reason, not to mention all sorts of stories made up to cover the terrible (at the time) things that no one wanted known.  And it was very easy to hide until DNA testing became available and suddenly everything changes.  But this isn’t that story.  That’s going in my next book.  Probably.  This is just a thing I was looking for when I did my Ancestry DNA test and it didn’t give me exactly what I was expecting.

I gave my parents DNA tests last Christmas (not a good present if you think they might not be your parents) and turns out that they are my parents.  YAY!  But my DNA ethnicity estimate wasn’t what I expected.  It’s not an exact science since different siblings may inherit different DNA from each parent so I knew it would be a bit iffy, and it’s even more off because the part of Bohemia my dad’s family is from is in the venn diagram between Eastern and Western Europe that is never listed as a real place when it comes to ancestry stuff.  But it gave me some weird stuff I didn’t expect (and possibly could have been erased from our family history since there were more prejudices when my family came to America) and there were some things I’d wanted to find but didn’t. Like, no Native American DNA but technically it was so far back it might not have shown up anyway.  But where did all this Irish come from?  And my mom was crazy Irish on her test.  And there’s African and Jewish and it’s just small amounts, but still…weird.  Like there are stories out there from ancestors that I don’t know and desperately want to.

(Note: If you do your genealogical research fully and look for the real stuff instead of just the nice stories told to you by family, expect to find a shitload of bad stuff. Relative marked as “dead” who are actually in prison, relatives who were slaves or indentured servants, relatives who were slave-owners, relatives who died in mental institutions of the same problems you have.  It can be a bit traumatic if you’re not prepared.  Just be aware that the stuff written in the family Bible should be taken with a pound of salt and keep in mind that you make your own future and you are not responsible for your distant ancestors tragedies, failures or successes.  At best they are stories to learn from.  And if you do DNA research expect to find people you should not be related to but are -and vice versa – because flings happened even in the “good old days” and that’s life.  It can be a bit jarring though and it happens way more than you would imagine.  In fact, some of the DNA sites specifically let you opt out from knowing who you are related to because it might be upsetting to you.  Personally, I think it’s fascinating but I found a relative I should not have been related to and it was a bit hard on all sides to realize that your ancestors are far more complicated than you ever imagined.  That’s another story.)

Aaaaaanyway, in 2015 I did my DNA test on Ancestry.com and it came out interesting but not entirely what I expected so this year I did my DNA test on 23andme.com to see if I’d get the same info and it was close but fairly different.  The 23andme.com test is more expensive but also tells you if you’re a carrier for some diseases, special traits you might have, etc.  I’d wanted to know how the test differed so I thought I’d share some of my results with you in case you were trying to decide which one to do.  Also, note that your DNA report can be updated as they get more information or refine their testing so it can change a bit each time you look at it.

According to Ancestry.com this is my approximate estimate of my ethnicity:

33% Great Britain

26% Eastern and Western Europe (Where they overlap is Bohemia/ Czechoslovakia.)

19% Irish

17% Scandinavian

1% African

1% European Jewish

1% Middle Eastern

1% Italian/Greek

1% Iberian Penninsula

Today I got my 23andme results and this is my approximate estimate:

28% British and Irish

21% French and German

2% Scandinavian/Finnish

20% “Broadly” Northwestern European (Counties rimming the North and Baltic Seas)

17% Eastern European

4% “Broadly” Southern European (Sardinia and the Iberian, Italian and Balkan Peninsulas)

7% “Broadly” European

So basically they both say “You’re pretty European” but they certainly aren’t an exact match.  The Ancestry test breaks it out a bit more and I’m not sure if it’s more accurate but there it is.  What was interesting is that the 23andme test also gave me a bunch of other data about how I’m probably not a carrier for the diseases they look at (Whoop!) and gave me a list of a lot of weird traits and such that are somewhat true but not entirely.  Like they say I’m probably not lactose intolerant and my bowels would disagree heartily.  They were right on eye color and facial features and lots of other traits and variants though.

These, however were a few of my favorite things that made my DNA unique, according to 23andme.  I should point out that I am not making these up.  They are direct screenshots from my report:

This doesn’t feel like something I should want to succeed in.
Some people have natural rhythm or perfect pitch..  This is my gift.  Apparently.
Disagree.  I’m very attached to my earlobes.
NO, YOU ARE.  (Is this an insult?  I don’t even know.)
Finally, some good news.

In the end I preferred the Ancestry.com test because it seemed more accurate to me and I got more DNA matches to other members I was able to contact and share information with, but the 23andme test was cool too.

But what do I know?  I’m mostly Neanderthal.  Apparently.

291 thoughts on “Looking at DNA from someone who knows absolutely goddam nothing.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I’ve not done mine but I’m pretty sure it will be mostly Chinese with a little Irish. I want to change my name to O’Lum.

  2. I think it would tell me that I am broadly broad. And that I have ankles like a Polish peasant – which I am anyway, and a total stranger could have told me that.

  3. I got my fiance and I kits from Ancestry.com No surprises really for me (mostly those Jewish heavy areas of Europe, which I already knew, a small amount of other areas in Europe and Africa (ok that WAS a surprise!). But he was always led to believe he had Native American in his background. Well not a single percent. Not even a smidgeon of a percent. Both parents recently passed so he can’t even ask them what the fuck?

  4. I’m super interested in genealogy especially because my grandfather used aliases because of immigration and then mafia ties, and then he disappeared when my mom was a teenager so we have no access to his family knowledge. And there’s no birth certificate for him? He’s essentially erased from history.

  5. This stuff is pretty interesting. I’ve always been a bit jealous of ancestry stories of you guys on the other side of the pond. I’m pretty sure if I ever researched mine it would be like “farmer in this exact spot…. farmer in this exact spot… farmer in this exact spot… survived the plague long enough to have children… more farming… my grandparents!” So yeah, not shelling out for that story 😉

  6. I would like to get mine done, but I’ve also read articles that say they aren’t very accurate. I would be interested to see what they said about sneezing and light for me. I suffer from photic sneeze reflex. Someone should start a telethon.

  7. Neanderthals have gotten a bad rap… that’s actually a good thing, as much of our hardiness comes from Neanderthal genes.

  8. Have you ran 23andme results through genetic genie? I think the site is geneticgenie.org. Anyway it’s free and gives you a methylation and detox health report. This was pivotal for my DO to keep me from dying.

    I learned I have genetic mutations for methylation issues converting folic acid to folate she suggests to take Folapro daily (L-5-methytetrahydrofolate), which I have been taking and it does make a difference as I feel much more balanced and calm (more than before but still have extreme anxiety when GI motility issues kick in) and my body feels less toxic. And because I have CBS upregulation issues, she suggests to take molybdenum (which is interesting because my nutraeval report showed I had zero in my body) and avoid foods high in thiols as too much inability to process sulphur leads to high levels of ammonia which makes nervous system more alkaline and anxiety. Interesting that once I learned about foods high in thiols like cruciferous vegetables and eggs and started to limit quantities I did feel less toxic/inflamed.

    Sent from my iPhone

    (This would be awesome but when I try to go there I end up redirected to some coupon site. I wonder if it went under? ~ Jenny)

  9. Did the 23andme a few years back with my dad. It said neither of us have any Irish heritage. Dad’s half Irish. As in has an Irish passport and documents of his grandparents getting off the boat Irish. So. Um. No idea. Hoping 23andme made a mistake.

  10. My Ancestry results put me at 67% Eastern European. Apparently I’m so Polish, it hurts. I sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright sunlight (and so does my dad). Now I want to take the 23andme one and see whether or not we’re genetic anomalies.

  11. The sneezing in bright light totally happens. Both my brother and myself do it every time. Super annoying and very weird.

  12. I did my DNA test a year ago and now my mom, dad, and sister have all taken it. Funny thing is I’m 98% European Jew and 2% British. Basically super boring. Everyone else had some interesting things; Asian, African, and even Scandinavian! My co-worker told me I’m basically a purebred and I should feel special. I wanted some funky dna!

  13. Cool! We’re related! I’m more than the norm Neanderthal too! Wonder then why no unibrow?

  14. I did this. The 23andMe one. Mainly cuz my dad was adopted and I was like ‘hey it would be cool to know what I am made up of’ so I could accurately live up to some stereotype I guess. Turns out I am Irish. German. Italian. European. and some other countries. My eyes blurred at that point because I never liked geography. Or stereotypes for that matter….so that was when I decided I was just a good blend of thing, like a mutt at the pound. You know, the kind they say are smarter than the purebreed kind…..anywhoo. Congrats on the smelling of the pee skill. Sure that will come in handy. I wonder if you get a super hero cape now.

  15. Ha! When I was looking for jobs (I am an epidemiologist) right after I finished my PhD they kept advertising positions with 23 and me. I thought it was odd at the time, and figured that they would make some terrible correlations to health based on genetic ancestry results. BUT SNEEZING IN SUNLIGHT? Sheesh, even worse than I had anticipated.

  16. I read that as “gynaecological searches” in the first main paragraph. And I just shrugged and thought weird hobby and didn’t question that it really didn’t make sense in context. I just assumed that the story would circle back.

  17. I’m still waiting for the results of my DNA test from MyHeritageDNA, but I already know I am very likely to sneeze when suddenly exposed to sunlight, so hopefully I’ll learn something more useful than that. If they tell me I’m not related to my dad, that will be a big bonus for my sister when I get kicked out of the will.

  18. I sneeze in the sun. When my son was an infant, on his first exposure to sunlight, his hands were curled into fists (like infants do), he sneezed and boxed himself in the face. I was sorry he got the trait, but it was kind of funny!

  19. Isn’t this fascinating?! I did the autosomalDNA on Ancestry a year ago, and am now looking into tests for my parents. One comment: I had crazy bad IBS for decades, but when I started eating low-carb (part of which means giving up grains) it disappeared within a couple of months. I mean, gone. Two years now. I can drink full-on cream on my coffee and eat anything dairy. Considering grains are inflammatory, makes sense.

  20. I just got my ancestry.com tests back and was surprised that no native American and a whole lot of British. Some Scandinavian but not as much as expected. However my mother’s mother was adopted and we don’t know her ancestry. Who knows, you and I might be related! I just really hope my husband’s family doesn’t show up as a cousin.

  21. Thank u for this as I got the Ancestry DNA test for Christmas and am looking forward to seeing results.

  22. My husband is more likely to sneeze while eating dark chocolate! That was one of his results!

  23. I gave the Ancestry DNA to my dad because he wanted to know. My brother and I are taking bets on the results. We have over/under bet on Native American, greatest percentage of overall background and strangest percentage. We didn’t guess on the Neanderthal so will need to add that! Can’t wait for the results!

  24. I got an Ancestry test for Christmas. I need to do it. I haven’t done it yet because I had a very bad cold and was slightly but not really worried they’d accidentally sequence the cold and I’d be from Antarctica as a consequence. Plus I’m adopted, so odds are I’m from Pluto anyway.

  25. I’ve been wanting to do the 23andMe test ever since I did the Ancestry.com test. I didn’t have many surprises in mine. Well, other than finding out that despite having a Dutch surname, I am actually not Dutch. That was pretty weird.

  26. My mother’s 23andMe test showed that she is 0.1% Yakut (an indigenous group in Siberia). That was a surprise.

  27. I sneeze my face off when in bright light – my husband thought I was somehow faking it until our infant daughter started doing it too. I guess we’re not related 🙁

  28. I’d like to do a DNA test, but I’m not sure, because what do they do with that information? Maybe nothing now, but one day, there COULD be…I don’t even know what, but I dunno if I want that information out there…cuz what if they’re doing this and people are all yeah! I want to know about my ancestry, but they keep track of it and people with certain traits or whatever are selected to be put on a ‘list’ for some nefarious purpose? Probably not…but I don’t think I’m ready to take the chance…

  29. I did the ancestory one and was adopted. I had papers that said I was partly “Indian” I have blond hair and blue eyes! I always thought it was American Indian, but results came back mostly Irish/English with traces of India India go figure! I love spicey and Indian food lol!!

    (Did it give you any DNA matches to help you find relatives? I think that would be so fascinating. I have hundreds of matches on Ancestry but only about 10 that I could recognize or see where we were matched. ~ Jenny)

  30. I did the 23&Me test when it was on sale, for $99 – it’s normally around $200 I think – and then Ancestry was handing out their tests at BlogHer last year (woohoo!). I’m 33% British which surprised me, I know my great-grandma on my dads side is but that’s all I knew. My mom got like 97% Ashkenazi, which was unsurprising, but my aunt (dads sister) got like 40% Scandinavian which REALLY surprised me. I’m a genealogy nut and have a MyHeritage.com account but have seen no Scandavian in our line.

    (I can’t find any Scandinavian in our line either. I’ve read in the forums that Ancestry tends to overestimate the Scandinavian ancestry. It doesn’t entirely surprise me though because my parents and I are darker and my sister is a blue-eyed, blonde, fair anomaly. And my mom’s family is all dark but one of her brothers is a blue-eyed, blonde, fair anomaly and the Scandinavian showed up on her test too. Who knows. It’s cool though. ~ Jenny)

  31. My husband got this last year from the kids and turns out his grandfather isn’t his biological grandfather. Grandma must have been a scamp or something bad happened to her.

  32. Getting a DNA test is on my list of things to do when I get some extra cash, We found out recently that our family which was thought to be mainly european actually has some middle eastern in way back, so it will be interesting to see what else comes out in the mix as well…

  33. “…you are unlikely to sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright light.”

    I AM!! Seriously. It’s a thing and it’s in my family. If we go outside without sunglasses and it’s a stark contrast from the indoors situation, we’ll sneeze. Fun fact!

  34. I sneeze with bright sunlight sometimes. My kid does it ALL the time. So I guess we’re not related to you. 🙁

    (Victor does it too. I thought he was the only one until this. ~ Jenny)

  35. I actually do sneeze when exposed to bright light. It can make driving out of tunnels on sunny days interesting.

  36. The ethnicity results are very “beta”, do not take them as seriously as your match results. If the results say you are 3rd cousins, you are 3rd cousins. I was able to confirm with my tree a relationship with a 4th cousin 3 times removed !The further out you go, the less reliable. Working your matches to build your tree is the best way to figure out your ethnicity and your “tribes”.

    *budding genealogist here, found my birth father using DNA. http://www.whitetigressancestry.com

    (Mine showed my parents as my parents and my grandmother as my grandmother but then Ancestry did an update and changed my grandmother to my first cousin. Obviously not, especially since she showed up on my mom’s report as her mother but yeah. It’s interesting how right they are and also how wrong they are. One person showed up as a very close relative on my report and we figured it was a mistake because it didn’t make sense until we did some more digging and found out that you can’t trust that your relatives are exactly who you think they are. That was one thing that made me a little less addicted to genealogy. It’s so likely that a fling or adoption is in there and the people you think you’re blood related to aren’t your blood relatives so even when you think you have the whole story you never really do. ~ Jenny)

  37. I both my kids sneeze in bright sunlight. I wonder if that is a recessive or dominant trait. Neither my husband nor I do it.

  38. Enjoyed those “traits” – gave me a good laugh.
    I recently got into exploring my ancestry & doing dna tests on family members. I too was surprised not to have Native American listed as one of my ethnicities in my results, especially since it isn’t that far back on my father’s side. Like you I found out that not all tests are alike. I was given advice from someone who had been at it a lot longer than I have that I could request my dna raw data as a file from Ancestry or 23&me (very simple process) and upload that to another site called GEDmatch. GEDMatch is harder to use because it is for more serious genealogists. You can then run your dna through a bunch of different filters that compare with other samples. There are a few that specifically include some Native American tribes in the samples. My Native American ancestry showed up then. GEDMatch is free. I think I watched some youtube videos to learn how to use it and the rest I learned from poking around.


  39. If I were queen of the world, everyone would have to do a DNA test. And every body we find would have a DNA test done, even if they’re super-old bodies we find in caves or whatever.

    And the whole British royal family would have to do it, because I seriously want to know if Elizabeth is really the daughter of Henry the 8th and stuff like that.

    People would probably have to be dead a certain number of years before the information was made public, unless they opt in. Because even as queen of the world, I wouldn’t be a monster.

    There are way too many of those untold stories that I’d love to uncover.

    (I would support your Queenery. ~ Jenny)

  40. Photic sneezing! Also known as Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst, or “ACHOO”. (Seriously. Because scientists are like that.) I suffer from this and so does my dad. The theory I was told is that it’s to do with your nervous system having its wires crossed, so when it gets the “Ooh, a really bright light is shining in my eye” signal from your optic nerve, it also thinks it’s getting the “Oops, something’s tickling my nose, better sneeze” signal from another nerve right next to it. I always sneeze twice in succession when stepping out from a shadow into bright light.

  41. I had the DNA test done in the early days of 23andme, and one of the things it told me is that I have a gene mutation that makes me more prone to blood clots (Prothrombin G20210A). {I had it done on Ancestry recently, but haven’t played with the ancestry side of it much (yet).}

    Fast forward to 3 months ago, I’m having some issues with pain in my feet. My doctor says “usually, I’d send people to get a Doppler to check for blood clots, but since you only have symptom X, but not Y or Z… I’m thinking maybe just tests for arthritic issues” I mention the gene mutation, she decides instantly to send me for a Doppler… and boom a few hours later I’m spending the night in the hospital because I had clots behind both knees. Who knows what complications that could’ve had, had I not known about my increased likelihood to form clots!

  42. Genealogy is my favourite thing. OMG. I’m an adoptee, and while I know my birth family fairly well, it is so cool to find all this genetic stuff. African surprised me enormously! My bio-mom is going to do a test soon too, so I can figure out what’s from her side and what’s from bio-pop.

    I do family tree work for charity money. If anyone wants some work done, hit me up. Luna (at) headingwest (dot) ca – I’m cheap… I mean “inexpensive”, and no charge if I find nothing new for you.

  43. I sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright sunlight. I learned that my baby girl got that trait too when she’d sneeze on me every time I turned on her light and then went to pick her up from the crib. Now I stay back for a couple of minutes.

  44. I took the 23and me test and the Ancestry one and found my birth family. (I was adopted at age 3 months). Grew up an only child and now have 3 siblings. Anywho, they got my lactose intolerance wrong too. And the unibrow.

  45. If you are really interested, you can download the raw data from your Ancestry or 23andMe tests and upload them to Family Tree DNA (for a reduced fee) and GEDMatch to see even more people you are related to :-).

  46. The sunlight one cracked me up…my daughter swears staring into the sunlight makes her sneeze. She’s 22. I don’t think she’s making it up anymore.

  47. First off I have been wanting to do this and haven’t yet. Second – on the whole surprises in your family tree thing – I have a bona fide ax murderer. Now, I’m not descended from the ax murderer but still…ax murderer. His son, who was a baby when dad killed his mother and attempted to kill him as well, grew up to be murdered anyway for crossing a picket line at a coal mine. Also many many suicides in the old family tree.

  48. I may or may not work for a company that does genetic testing. These are generally more accurate when done in family bunches. It’s interesting.

  49. What an awesome coincidence! Check out my last blog post! I think I may be channelling you. Or you’re channelling me. Or something. Anyway, I haven’t had a DNA test yet but I’m going to now. There is a little bit of a dispute within the family whether an ancestor fought for the North or South and also whether my Great Great Great Grandfather was a slave. Same name (all 3 of them), same Kansas. I probably won’t be able to share my finding with my parents because they are a little nutty about family scandal. But I really love digging into the past, as well. Some of mine go back to the 1600’s, too.

    Just one more reason to love you, I suppose.

  50. Not to be contrary, but I read, “more neanderthal variants,” means you have varied (changed) from neanderthal more than 99% of people. But maybe this also has you concerned. I love Lucy has a totally different meaning…

    (I thought that at first too but then I looked at the report and I think they mean that I have a lot of Neanderthal in me and that is different or varied from the average person. It says I have 333 Neanderthal variants, which is more than 99% of the people they’ve looked at and that if you have Neanderthal variants it means some of your physical traits can be traced back to my Neanderthal ancestors. ~ Jenny)

  51. Wet earwax? I’m still puzzling over that–like, it drips out of your ears? That would not be the best Superpower. At least if it’s dry, you can throw it at villains and such.

    (Mine doesn’t. The wetness keeps it inside. But I think if it’s dry it’s “flakey?” So would that mean that dry earwax just rolls out of your ear when you sleep? Now I want to look at other people’s earwax. ~ Jenny)

  52. Download your results and upload them to gedmatch.com. You can do some cool analysis on there–ancient DNA, more fine level analysis. It’s a free site. My kit number is T171819.

  53. The bright sunlight sneezing is really a thing?! I have a friend who ALWAYS sneezes 3 times when he goes outside. I thought it was just him. No idea it was a genetic thing. Cue music: The more you know…

  54. I have a vague interest in having one of these tests done, but have never thought of the cost (both up-front and for future generations, following up on a previous comment regarding nefarious testing purposes).

    I HAD quite a bit of unibrow before puberty; either puberty or tweezing or both eliminated that. I often look directly at bright lights So I Will Sneeze, especially if my sinuses have been itchy for a day or two. I cannot smell the asparagus whatnot in my pee (nor does it turn my pee green).

    Thank you for sharing your results with us!

  55. Almost every member of my father’s side of the family sneezes in bright light. At least three generations, myself included. It can be quite annoying.

  56. My dad got his DNA done and it said he matched as a first cousin with this woman who we didn’t know. We found out that my dad’s uncle, who had gone missing in 1929 right before the crash and who we assumed had been killed by the mob, had actually just run off and started another family. so now my dad has a new cousin and we know Uncle Philip wasn’t dead under a street somewhere but instead was just kinda a shitty person.

  57. It’s on my to-do list. I got my Dad theAncestry one last year. He came out 98% Irish heritage – so… yeah.
    I’m definitely curious.
    The wet earwax/dry earwax thing is weird. Seriously.

  58. Well a lot of your readers sneeze when exposed to bright light, it seems. I am one of them too. None of my immediate family members does it though. Once again, I won the recessive gene lottery!!! Yay?

  59. There’s a restaurant in… I think it’s England? That tests you to see if you’re related to Attilla the Hun and if you are, you eat free.

    2.I kind of feel like you’d like some of the weird neanderthal things I have read – specifically Neanderthal Man by Svante Pbo, The Humans Who Went Extinct by Clive Finlayson (nonfiction) and Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshenbaugh. There’s a pretty cool documentary called “Journey to 10,000 BC” as well.

    TIL I’m apparently a Neanderthal groupie.

  60. Well, I DO sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright sunlight. I don’t know why it happens, it just does. So.. not that weird (?)

    (I also can’t break down alcohol so you win that one).

  61. There is some other test you can take, and then you can triangulate all the results. I haven’t done it because I haven’t been that indicia shit, but it sounds fascinating if you have time. I’m not sure where I read that on the Internet so you would have to look it up yourself. So in other words, hey here’s some work for other people to do! Which is pretty much my secret superpower.

  62. I wonder if talking in your sleep is something these tests can see in DNA? I talk a LOT in my sleep (and I record it occasionally to prove it), so does my Dad (full conversations about business) and my paternal grandmother sang tent revival hymns in her sleep. I’m fairly certain my mum’s MALE ancestors are more or less Gorilla, so we probably go back further than Neanderthals, but I’m sure we have a lot of those genes too….

    (It did show that I was genetically likely to not sleep deeply – true – and that I’m unlikely to move much during sleep – not sure about that one – but it didn’t say anything about talking in your sleep. ~ Jenny)

  63. A note on the Scandinavian conversation above. I too was surprised by the 33% Scandinavian in my results. The mix of different western & eastern European ancestry was expected. One thought on that, not only did the Vikings ravage some of western Europe, but during the age of settlement many actually went and settled in Scotland, England, Ireland and many other countries. Since that is a lot of my heritage, I thought perhaps the ancestors of my ancestors in those countries may have originally come from Scandinavian countries.

  64. my nephew did this DNA test, now mind you I am half Japanese and he is a quarter. did have some Asian in him but is 42% Irish I think all pasty white folk are thrown into the Irish bin.

  65. I’ve always been interested in this shit, totally need to get it done. I remember ages back in anthropology class the prof talking about how having dry or wet earwax in a inherited dna thing. what a strange thing to inherit. also, #66 Julia..i have an axe murderer in my family too! HIGH FIVE. no, maybe not. well, not in my blood persay..but i guess it was my great aunt, one of my grandfathers younger sisters was married to a man when she was only 15 and then was killed by the guy while pregnant,with a an axe. ugg. family history is so much fun!

  66. My husband’s research and DNA test was funny. His family was 100% sure his maternal grandmother was 100% Norwegian. Turns out some French dude infiltrated the bloodline back in the 1500s. A few members of his family are still in denial. Then we did our DNA from ancestry and got another laugh. I have more Scandinavian in my DNA than mr. red hair and Norwegian forehead. My family swore we have Native American and my husband was like everyone thinks they have Native American but most don’t. Guess what, I do. Now I wanna do 23andme.

  67. my proper last name is sheffield-ruttenberg lol im related by direct decent to a very famous horse thief.. and cattle rustler.. the bookie who had wrigley field as he territory and one of the few not touched in the 50s raids a academy award winning composer and phtog. diff folks,., members of the familes dante wrote the divine comedy in rebellion against LOL thomas cromwell and edwards 1, 2 and 3.. which also means danny dyer* east enders* is related to me 4th cousin 6 times removed or some crap LOL and alcoholics and laudinum and other addicts in direct decent from as far back as the 1500s LOL and came out 50% english 505 german possibly some western euro jewish no shit i was raised C of E/conserv jewish LOl family of brits and germans kept marrying each other LOl sort of like our current royal family LOL (yeah im a Brit).. we had the relations who swapped identities 1915? ish my uncle swapped with his younger brother as he went off to uni so the younger brother could join the Royal navy and my uncle went off to uni both using eachothers names and ID.. 10 yrs later no one who was lalive knew my uncle maxwell was really my uncle david LOl same family took in a poorer folks durring the countryside relocations and when his folk died he became a sheffield so my uncle paul was really paul the tailors son.. lol also have WW1 and WW2 marriages germans to british british to germans.. members who fought honourably on both sides in each.. members who profiteered.. in ww1 and ww2 from both sides.. .. but no vampire.. or neanderthal!! drat.. was kinda hoping for some after reading your article !! and appearnalty geneticly disposed too process alcohol just like a family of addicts by reinforced genetics LOl.. so everyone one sober 15 yrs or more or non addicited is a miracle LOL

  68. Sadly, even the “official” records will often contain mistakes, so verify everything in multiple ways if possible. My mother’s death certificate has an incorrect date and cause of death. Her paternal grandmother’s death certificate has the wrong place of birth listed. My maternal grandfather’s military records have his name and some other information wrong (partly because he lied about his Native American mother). And DNA from very distant ancestors can pop up unexpectedly in one sibling but not another. DNA’s fascinating and fun but still has a ways to go to be completely relied on.

    But you celebrate that Neanderthal in you, girl! Not too many years ago, science textbooks assured us that homo sapiens and Neanderthal could not interbreed. Apparently we’ve been covering up things for a VERY long time.

  69. Comparatively though, I know I’m incredibly likely to sneeze when exposed to bright sunlight. It’s always made me kind of a freak in my family. I did my ancestry too. I’ve been lied to MY WHOLE LIFE. “On dad’s side you’re mostly german and russian.” NO I AM NOT. “On mom’s side you’re mostly french and irish” NO I AM NOT. DNA results put me at 24% British, 21% Italian, 20% Irish, 17% Scandinavian. Plus a host of tiny percentages. Wtf family??

  70. The only DNA testing I’ve had done was when I had breast cancer. Lucky me, none of the genetic markers (like BRCA (Angelina Jolie)) came back positive, so my cancer is a mystery.

    For the woman who came back 97% Ashkenazi?? If you see this, you might want to expand to get the BRCA test (if you haven’t already) – its super prevalent in that population.

  71. I freaking love Genealogy! I got the Ancestry DNA test for Christmas and can’t wait to get my results. I use geni.com and my family tree has exploded by just adding a few senior family members emails and it’s an animal all on it’s own now. I also found this amusing: “Albert Abraham Einstein, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1921 is your fifth cousin five times removed’s ex-wife’s husband’s aunt’s husband’s great grandson.” I love it!

  72. I think we might be related! Mine are mostly the same. I discovered the asparagus pee thing a long time ago, though.

  73. Having a bad couple days over here. I really needed this laugh. Oh, and I can smell asparagus metabolate too. Maybe we’re related!!

  74. I didn’t know that sneezing at bright light wasn’t something that happened to everyone until I took one of these tests.

  75. I love genealogy and ancestry DNA! For more family-finding, check out GEDmatch.com, which allows users of all different DNA testing sites to compare their DNA for free.

  76. So 23andMe and Ancestry.com both use exactly the same technology to run their DNA – identical chips and everything. The only difference is Ancestry has them run in house by Illumina (the company that produces the DNA sequencing) and 23andme runs in their own facilities. Beyond that their websites have slightly different set up, and 23andme does health stuff. The health stuff they show is fairly good – FDA had a bit of a crackdown on ’em and now they can only show you the mostly accurate stuff (they used to have a lot of speculative data).

    (I wonder then why they don’t give the same data. Like Ancestry saying I’m 17% Scandinavian and 23andme saying I’m 2%. ~ Jenny)

  77. I’ve done this and I’m pretty proficient in this area. I LOVE your analysis of your results. 🙂 I’m pretty much 98% white (European/Irish) with 2% West Asian. My mom is the one who didn’t pass down the Native American DNA to me. Boooo!

  78. Apparently, anyone with any European extraction is related to Charlemagne, Carolingian King of the Franks (so hey! we’re cousins!). I just wish I knew from which of his 18 kids I was sired from. Personally, I’m gunning for Pippin the Hunchback.

  79. I already know that I sneeze in bright sunlight. But I still want to take the test. Like when I paid a fortune teller $20 (in 90s dollars) to tell me things I already knew about myself.

    (Btw, Mrs. Grey on Shepherd, I took your advice.)

  80. I haven’t done the test yet… I’d bought it and then gave it to my dad because I’m a slacker on Father’s Day shopping. I’ve been doing family history for a few years now, and we knew my dad’s paternal line came from Sweden. That was a given anyway, due to our last name (Norene) and doceumented stories of my 2x great grandfather traveling to South Africa with a hoarde of Swedes to build churches.
    I expected far more Scandinavian DNA from his test results, but it was 27%…his brothers, however, was 68%. Yes, same parents. Ancestry.com is awesome, because they have these great video tutorials to help you understand how DNA works and shows up in families. If it wasn’t for those, I’d have dismissed the DNA stuff – because how can one sibling be MORE Swedish than the next?
    PLUS, (unrelated to DNA) I’d given up on finding any living relatives on my late mother’s side…and was contacted by a woman asking why I had a photo of her great grandma (also mine) – she didn’t think she had any living relatives on her dad’s side. Now I have a “new” 3rd cousin…and she looks a LOT like my sister & niece!
    Its fascinating stuff, and I agree that having the Ancestry.com one gives you more foundation, because it will connect you with relatives.

  81. My daughter always sneezes in the sun and my youngest son does sometimes too. However, neither my husband nor I do. I kind of want to know now which side it comes from. I’ve wanted to take one of these tests since I found out that they existed. My dad is adopted and I’m oddly curious about that side of my DNA.

  82. They mostly use the same informatics software to analyze too, but they may have slightly different thresholds for what’s considered significant. So a little bit of DNA shows up “Scandinavian” or whatever, but for 23andme it barely passes background so they might call it 2%, but Ancestry just doesn’t care about background very much and so reports 17%. Also this type of sequencing has a high-ish rate of false hits so even multiple runs on the same DNA might give slightly different results

  83. Super excited to get my results back. I have two friends who did the test and one found out she has a half sister who she never knew of who lives across the country and was a product of a 2 year fling. They connected immediately only to find out that they both named their kids the same things, in the same order, despite knowing nothing of each other’s existence. My other friend found his birth parents through the test (he was adopted as a baby). Mine won’t be nearly as exciting…but hey…that’s what my friends thought too. They were like “lol, I wonder if I’m more Italian or German,” and the test was like “lol, you have another family. Surprise! Mindf$&k!”

  84. If you really wanna have fun (and/or freak yourself out) link your 23andme account to codegen(DOT)eu and check out all the medical data that shows up. I’m kinda a DNA-testing junkie at this point. Last year I gifted 3 family members and 1 BFF with 23andme kits and not one of them has sent theirs in yet. Gah!

  85. My son and I both sneeze when exposed to bright sunlight. I sneeze only once. He sneezes three times, every time.
    I’m glad you’re attached to your earlobes.

  86. Thanks! i’ve been debating doing this and was torn between ancestry & 23andme! think we’re gonna give ancestry a chance. I love genealogy and have been researching for years with my mom. I laughed at your warning, because we did find a spontaneous change of identity from the 1920/1930’s… my great grandfather changed his name b/c 1.) went awol from the French Foreign legion and 2.) to avoid back dues owed to waiters union when he first jumped ship and settled in the US.

  87. Haha I had a friend that would sneeze 5 or 6 times in a row every time she went outside during the day. At least I always knew where to stand in order to NOT be sneezed on…

  88. The sneezing thing is real! Sometimes when I go from inside to a bright sunny outside, I sneeze! I got it from my dad who does it too! How weird is that?

  89. The data sets actually look pretty similar and could be explained by the two companies just using different geographical boundaries as categories, EXCEPT the theory doesn’t hold… there’s kind of a big difference between how Irish you are and how French/German you are. That’s weird.

  90. I had a cousin just do this. It didn’t say she had any Native American and we know we do. Come to find out, they don’t have Indian DNA in the system. I don’t know if the Native American culture is just so proud or secretive that they haven’t let anyone procure it. Don’t worry. It’s probably there.

  91. I am one of those people who sneeze when looking at a sudden bright light. It has something to do with the nerve that contracts your pupils fast being connected to the sneeze nerve in your nose/sinuses. It’s just creative nerve wiring.

    As for surprises in my family history, very few except that my paternal grandmother snuck across the border from Canada into Minnesota and found a husband here. Mossback alert! Haha!

  92. Family bible and a pound of salt. Got it. (Are you sure it isn’t a pillar of salt?)

    And that was waaaay more than I ever wanted to know about your earwax. 😛

  93. Fascinating. I tell my child that she’s a northern european mutt – she seems to want some more clarity and has asked to do this – I suggested that she save her pennies.

  94. My maternal grandmother has written books (like, actual books in the library) about our line going back through several centuries, so I’ve never felt the need to research it. And my dad’s last name was twisted or straight made up at immigration a few generations back, so if I ever see someone with my surname, I 100% know we’re related. It’s fun to be unique… annoying to have to spell it for people all the time.

  95. Good on you and your family for not buying into that whole Homo Sapiens fad! Go Neanderthals!! 🙂

  96. I sneeze every time I walk out of a building into bright sun light. I had no idea it was genetic. Thanks for the info!

  97. I’ve read different articles (and done my own Ancestry test) about the Native American portion. Part of the problem they have is that not enough of different types of Tribes or Natives have participated in the tests, therefore, they don’t have those types of DNA profiles on record to compare to. My family has Native Americans on both sides (we have a whole book written about one side) of the family and mine didn’t come back with any either.

  98. You adopted folks can check out the Facebook group DNA Detectives, as a free way to help you navigate using these tests to figure out not only your heritage but quite possibly your parentage. There are also adoption search angels who will do this, just search for the site dnaadoption to learn how. Meanwhile, you can also hire someone like myself if you have less time but would like to pay someone to help you figure out your parentage/heritage. I can be contacted at awebber@genealogical.com. You can also find other genetic genealogists by looking them on the Association of Professional Genealogists website athttps://www.apgen.org or you can find us listed on the http://isogg.org website. Genetic genealogists can also help people who are not adopted but who wish to understand their test results, need help using results to further research or who need advise on what test to take. Finally, for all those who have tested and want to get some health information, I recommend that you download your results and then upload them at https://www.promethease.com for an unbiased peek at the health research on your particular genetic makeup.

  99. Was crushed to learn that I am SO white. I studied languages (mainly Spanish) in school and thought for SURE I had Iberian DNA. Not so. I did, however, connect with a cousin who also studied languages-super neat! Did Ancestry.com

  100. Haha, these are awesome! I’ve definitely wanted to do my DNA because my family is not close at all, and I know little to nothing even about my grandparents.

    Also, just from experience, I know that I cannot smell the asparagus one, so lucky you, haha. Although I do sneeze from light. And also, cilantro tastes like soap to me and some other people because it’s genetic.

  101. This cracks me up.

    I’ve been thinking of getting a DNA test done myself because I’ve been poking around in my own genealogical history just for shits and giggles. I don’t have any relatives left who can give me information, so I have to wade through all the possibilities at Ancestry.com which is exhausting. I haven’t yet found the relative that all of my relatives told me my whole life existed–a Native American woman. Most likely Cherokee. Which, if she ever existed AT ALL, makes a lot of sense since my mother’s family lived in/around the eastern TN and N. Carolina area for over 200 years.

  102. I wanna know why some of those results even come up…What are they really looking for? Maybe with that pound of salt add a barrel of tequila and a baker’s dozen of limes.

  103. Loved this blog. Your Ancestry breakdown looks extremely similar to mine. Maybe we are long lost cousins:)

  104. My husband did a cut-rate groupon one a few years back, and it said he was 100 percent Yemeni. Not even close. Not even nohow, nowhere, never even a little bit close. I gave him 23 and me for Xmas, and we are waiting for it to come back. If it still says he is from yemen, I’m afraid I’m going to have to register him.

  105. I agree with Drea — I’m curious but I wouldn’t trust these companies with my dog’s DNA, much less my own. Anyway my mom’s into genealogy and I already know that side is deep south redneck wrong-side-of-the-civil-war folk so what else do I really need to know? 😛

  106. My husband and I did the Ancestry ones late last year and I was surprised by the results. We’ve always been told that my great grandfather was from Ireland. So you’d think there would be a lot of Irish in my results. Well, you’d be wrong, because I had more British and Scandinavian (where the fuck did that come from?) than Irish. Now I’m tempted to do the one National Geographic offers just to see how they compare.

  107. There’s a lot of weirdos out there that sneeze if they look into light. My husband just has to rub the side of his nose with his finger and he will sneeze. We’ve been together FOREVER and I only learned this a couple of years ago. He probably suspected I’d laugh at him. He was right.

  108. I haven’t been convinced that this DNA testing isn’t high-tech astrology, but I am tempted to do it to see if my hunch about my father’s family is right: I bet they were Jewish until a few centuries ago.

    I don’t sneeze in sunlight, but raw carrots give me the hiccoughs. Does that count for anything?

  109. The second one totally screwed you on being Scandinavian, so I’d toss that one. I may have to do this – I should be 50% Scandanavian and then – who the hell knows!

  110. Regarding skeletons in the closet: when my grandmother died and my mother contacted the family historian (actual thing) to update the family geneology (another actual thing) she learned (among other things) that my grandmother’s father had accidentally murdered my grandmother’s mother by making her ingest mercury in an attempt to terminate her sixth pregnancy. The judge that would have prosecuted the case was my grandmother’s grandfather (so my great, great) and he declined to prosecute, but instead divided the children amongst relatives. Great grandfather went on to remarry and aparently never mention the first wife or previous five children, but the descendants have been kept track of. There’s more skeletons associated with the story, but that’s the catalyst event that led to the others.

  111. This is my obsession at the moment too. I’m practically European but with this weird little amount from caucus! I too have wet ear wax – yay x

  112. If I were Queen of the World, instead of Sandra, I would demand that everyone be given free DNA tests so that nobody could discriminate against anybody since we’d all have ethnicities that could be discriminated against. And, we would all qualify for weird college scholarships or grants (e.g., people of Native American descent, people with unibrows, people with wet-earwax) that we were unaware we were qualified to apply for.

  113. Ha. Too much fun. I did 23andme and loved my 86% Neanderthal score and am humbled by yours and may worship you. And I’m uber Irish, but I “knew” that – red head with Irish Catholic granddad. Anyway all too much fun.
    As for geaneology, I have one ancestor who claims we are 12th cousins of the Red Baron, and 9th cousins of Goerthe, a wise philosopher. I strongly suspect some wishful ancestral record interpretation occurred. You know, when you track your Irish ancestor to a walk about in Alsace France and find an arrest record for drunk in public and tells the gendarmes “you cant arrest me, I’m the Red Barron.” And they say “sure you are, and at dawn when you wake up your heads gonna feel like you were in a plane wreck” And they book him under Red Barron until the next morning they add “aka Desmond OMoore” and then in 2012 we see the record and claim “yep – we were related to the Red Baron”. 😜

  114. I had done considerable genealogical research before doing the Ancestry DNA. It was very accurately matched to what I had already proved. Wet earwax is more often a European trait and dry earwax is more often an Asian trait. My husband sneezed in bright sunlight and so does my son. I gave my dad the test for his birthday a couple of years ago and he found Middle Eastern in his genetic mix which was kind of fun because I’m so northern European, I don’t even tan. Just burn and go back to pasty.

  115. I truly enjoy your blog, but your cursing kind of makes me squeamish–even though I curse like a stevedore in daily life–but now I understand that you can’t help it due to your Neanderthal gene, so I’ve amended my opinion and squeamishness (as much as the latter can be amended). Thanks for the laughs and for your generosity in allowing us to link our comments to our latest blog posts.

  116. I find the photic sneeze reflex to be one of the more fascinating things about human biology. It’s just so bizarre. Why should exposure to sunlight cause anything like a sneeze?

    Biology is weird.

  117. Going back just 20 generations (600 or so years), we each have just over one million ancestors. Just food for thought.

  118. I am adopted and got a DNA kit from Ancestry last year for Christmas. Found a lot of fouth cousins but nobody close. I still check my matches periodically hoping for something closer, but so far no luck. I am also super European 🙂 Britain and Germany for me, the Germany I already knew from a letter I got from the adoption agency. I want ro do 23 andme someday too, just to increase the chances I might find someone. You never know!

  119. Hey, that sneezing in bright sunlight thing is a Bitch and everyone looks at you like you just cursed their great grandma or something. No shit

  120. I was part of the National Geographic Genographic project back in 2006. They were just starting to build up a database back then, so I did 23&me last year. I know for us girls we can only precisely trace our mother’s direct lineage, but Daaaaa-am. That side is WHITE. Very Finnish/Swedish/Irish/British. Some Italian, and Spanish too. My Dad’s side is mostly Irish/German/Italian/Native American. My dad’s sister, and brother took a test too.

    I’ve been doing our family’s genealogy since I was in my early twenties. It’s addictive when you see those darn leaves shaking on ancestr.com!

  121. When I first used 23andme, I was more Neanderthal than 98% of their users. Now it’s 80%. I guess a lot of cavemen have submitted their DNA in the past two years? (Also, I’m a professional genealogist, so if you ever have a question or hit a roadblock in your research, I’d be happy to help!) http://visibleroots.net

    (I hired a pro genealogist last year to help me identify a great grandmother who died in the 80’s and she was able to get further than I was but we still couldn’t figure out who she really was. She simply did not exist prior to marrying my great grandfather. Our assumption is that she changed her name when she married to escape something but no way to tell for sure. ~ Jenny)

  122. I don’t need an ancestry test to tell me I have a unibrow. I learned that in 1st grade when my sisters made me start plucking my eyebrows! Some of us aren’t so lucky. I think that makes me more closely related to the Neanderthals though.. 🙂

  123. I am too paranoid to have my DNA tested, I think it will end up in a governmental medical secret facility and used against me later. I a surprised with the way you think that you did it. But I would really like to know my genealogy because their are many secrets on both sides of my family.

    (I suspect that’s why Victor’s DNA kit is still sitting on the counter even though I’ve been telling him to do it for 6 months. I’m way too loose with my DNA. I’m always leaving it on forks and cups and things so I figure if someone really wants my DNA they can just follow me for a day and get some. This way I at least know someone professional has it if I suddenly get amnesia and can’t remember who I am and they can only identify me with DNA. That’s how my mind works. ~ Jenny)

  124. My great-great-aunts told me that their oldest sister “died young.” When we finally got her death certificate, she’d put her head in a gas oven at 18. They either hid it based on what is considered shameful in their religion or they were never told the truth. The 1940 census being released also showed a separation or divorce of grandparents that we didn’t know about. One of my favorites was getting several generations back and suddenly starting to recognize all the names that were popping up: I had second cousins intermarry so my family “tree” becomes a little interwoven at that point.

  125. Mine was pretty interesting. I was way more Irish than I expected. The only countries I knew for sure about prior to this were England, Ireland, and Czechoslovakia based on the research my aunt did.

    We had always heard that a great grandmother on Dad’s side was Native American, but this indicated 0% from the Americas.

    Europe West 43%
    Ireland 42%
    Great Britain 5%

    Europe East 4%
    Scandinavia 4%
    Finland/Northwest Russia < 1%
    West Asia < 1%

    Caucasus < 1%

  126. Hey. I was fascinated by my 23and me reports because I actually was able to qualify for one of their medical studies and it was FREE. I have Lupus and they are actively looking at the genetics of the disease in hopes of finding some help for those of us suffering through this weird, autoimmune curse. Thanks for making me laugh…and, btw, I don’t have a uni-brow either!

  127. I am proud, PROUD, I say of my Irish sheep stealing relatives and my Hungarian booze smuggling grandfather, (hey, the Iron Curtain descends you do what you can)! Sadly there doesn’t seem to be any mystery in my heritage that a DNA test would reveal. Maternal grandparents are English/Irish off the boat from Belfast and Paternal grandparents were vehemently Hungarian, regardless of where the borders went after WWI. Dad’s naturalization papers are from Czechoslovakia though (a country and a town that no longer exist though the family farm is supposedly still there.)

    Better fun for me was when my bestie’s husband rescued a puppy on a hiking trip (the pup, Hitch, had been attacked by a coyote and had a broken shoulder) and we did a Doggie DNA test on him. She took bets on the results. Majority Shepherd and Chihuahua. Nobody won except Hitch; he approached the right hiker and hit the new home jackpot 🖒😄

  128. Ooh, I can explain the earwax thing!

    The dominant version of this gene codes for sticky yellow earwax while the recessive version results in dry, crumbly, more grayish earwax. But because the gene in question is coding for what’s excreted by the glands in your skin, it also results in some other seemingly unrelated traits, like the makeup of breast milk and how people with the recessive gene have very little body odor.

    The interesting thing is that the recessive version is crazy common in Asia, at nearly 100% in Korea. It’s really uncommon in Europe, and almost never seen at all in Africa. So even though it’s a single gene that codes for something really obvious, it makes a terrible classroom genetics example because everyone in the class probably has exactly the same variant.

    (The only reason I know this is because I can be described as “broadly northern European by way of the midwest” while my husband is from southeast Asia. Our daughter, being half, gets my dominant version. I’m sad because the recessive version seems to be much better.)

  129. As an adoptee I did AncestryDNA in October and I found my birth parents from there. It’s been a crazy few months. I also learned I am 72% British, 10% Scandinavian, 7% Irish and then smaller amounts of European countries. I’ve made contact with my birth parents and we’re slowly building a relationship. I’ve gone from 1 sibling to 7! And numerous aunt’s, uncles and cousins all in the matter of a couple of months.

  130. There was always some suspicion that my mother’s father was not her father – he certainly never thought he was! – but she never could get a possible name. I did the ancestry test, and got a close-ish match (2nd cousin) to a family that didn’t appear in my tree at all. Some crosschecking and a few emails later, we still don’t know which of several brothers was probably her father, but odds are very good that he came from that family. She is still a little freaked out, but kind of amused too

  131. I’m kinda bummed to learn that we are in no way, shape, or form related. In answer to your question mark regarding sneezing in bright sunlight, this is one of the greatest hardships of my life. So is an inability to break down alcohol normally (that’s code for genetically predisposed to alcoholism).

  132. The National Geographic DNA gives really complicated results… might be fun to try that one too! It will tell you what “tribe” you’re descended from.

  133. I have the ACHOO disorder too! Sunlight, bright lights all make me sneeze. Multiple times. Which is loads of fun now that I am old and things no longer work right. Maybe I am actually an incontinent vampire?

    Both of my kids also sneeze in the light, although my daughter does far more than my son. So it must also be genetic (although none of my family had it) I wonder if this means I am actually adopted? :O

  134. How are you confused by the sneezing in sunlight? Anytime I walk outside and the sun is bright I sneeze at least once, sometimes twice. Or if I feel like I’m going to sneeze, I can look at a light to make sure the sneeze comes out. Apparently you’re not special like that.

  135. I love genealogy and have been obsessed with it for years. Unfortunately, a lot of my ancestors lived in places or were the type of people for whom records were not kept or were destroyed. So I’ve had a lot of dead ends, unless I want to travel to distant countries. Therefore, I spend a lot of time looking up genealogy information for other people. It’s all fascinating.

    I did the Ancestry test a couple years ago, but all the people I showed up as being related to didn’t have any clear relation. After talking to about 30 of them, I just stopped paying attention to emails. It’s exciting to hear that you actually connected with people that were related!

    Regards to the sneezing when exposed to light: a friend of mine has this, and her son inherited it. I had never heard of it before she told me about it. It’s fairly rare: only about a quarter of the population has this trait. It has to do with two of the nerves that run through a very small space in your head. One of them is your optic nerve, and the other one is one related to sneezing. In these individuals, the two nerves are so close together that when there’s serious stimulation from the optic nerve because of exposure to very bright light, it triggers sneezing. Oddly enough, my son has it. It turns out that my mother-in-law does too, but never thought to tell anyone because she thought everyone did it.

  136. I didn’t know sneezing in the sunlight was genetic! I’ve always teased my husband because I’ve never met someone who did that and his whole family does! Go figure.

  137. Fyi this was pulled from reviewnof these products: Keep in mind that if you are trying to evaluate family lore (about Native American ancestry, for example), this test cannot rule out all the possibilities. That’s not because of problems with this test but because of the technical limitations of autosomal DNA. You do not inherit DNA from each of your ancestors. You might have ancestors who lived in the early 1900s who did not pass any of their DNA down to you. Some people are tempted to conclude that their DNA test results are inaccurate if they do not find everything they expect to see, but that is not necessarily a problem with Ancestry’s test — it’s often simply a result of how DNA is inherited.

  138. P.S. to the person confused by Judaism is also referred to someone who IS a Jew. Just like someone could be Grecian or be Greek. It’s just another way to refer to a type of people

  139. Jenny, I have the same family mystery, except it’s my great-grandfather, not great-grandmother! He doesn’t exist prior to 1922. We’re certain that he changed his name, somewhere along the line, but no idea from what or why.

  140. My mom did Ancestry.com last year and found that her grandfather wasn’t her father’s father. It was one of the other 3 men great-grandma was fooling around with at the time. I think my mom was expecting more of a reaction from me because she sat me down very seriously. So Nana got around and we aren’t quite as genetically Mexican as we thought. Doesn’t affect our culture.

    Now my dad. He stopped researching the family history after finding out about the ax murderer who died in San Quentin. But even that wasn’t so bad. After he found out my grandma told us he killed his wife and nailed pieces of her to the wall. The last part turned out to be an embellishment to scare the children. Like the Boogeyman.

  141. I did the 23&Me one. Also a nurse so it makes a bit more sense to me. Was surprised to find there was a genetic component to wet vs dry ear wax! Keep in mind that the locations they are flagging by your genetics are based on comparisons to other people in their database that originate in those countries – there isn’t going to be a particular flag in your DNA that shows your ancestors came from one country or another because those boundaries move around a lot. And if your people have been in the US for more than a couple of generations the Scots-Irish is just gonna happen 😀
    These companies are going to have slightly different markers in their databases that are used to determine approximate geographic locations of ancestry, so getting more specific than Africa, Northern Europe, etc is going to be difficult unless there is something that flags to a specific part of the world exclusively. For instance a marker that was associated with Doggerland, which is now underwater.

  142. I did an Ancestry test and found a brother who I didn’t know I was missingoing! I uploaded my results to Gedmatch.com and now I have lots of new relatives helping me with my family tree. You just have to keep an open mind about what you might find. I’mean more Irish than my Irish husband!

  143. Are these tests very expensive? I know very little about one side of my family. I am pretty sure they are 100% Neandertal with no variants. Does it seem weird to other people that they compare you to other customers? It makes it sound like they surveyed customers on whether or not they smelled asparagus metabolite in their pee. I would not like a random stranger asking me about my pee sniffing habits (or lack thereof – I have better hobbies)

  144. Your ear wax speculation is disgustingly true. My sons ear wax rolls into a all and four falls out of his ear ornoften chooses to just hang in there until I get so grossed out I pretty much run at him with a q top ( and yes I know you’re not supposed to stick anything in your ear smaller than your elbow but ewww ear wax hanger ins are gross).

  145. I’m rather proud of my Neanderthal DNA. I think I was 2.2%. My 7-year-old has a book, sort of a graphic novel for kids, called “Lucy and Andy Neanderthal,” which is both entertaining and educational. Turns out Neanderthals were pretty decent folks, taking care of their injured, etc., and the sexes appear to have been fairly equal, based on wear and tear on bones that have been found. Maybe we could use a little more Neanderthal in all of us.

  146. I did 23andme. It didn’t reveal any surprises in my DNA (99.9% European, mostly British/Irish-I’m from a different part of Texas than you so no Bohemian and probably not related. Bummer.) but did reveal a few family surprises. My closest relatives on the site were an adoptee that I helped find his birth mother, the child of a cousin of my mother, Surprise! They had a good reunion. And the other close relative is African American from several states away. We haven’t figured out how we are related but we’ve become friends. Now trying to help another adoptee match trying to find her birth parent relative.

  147. Amazing what I learn from your blog! My husband always brought on a sneeze by looking at the sun, and couldn’t figure out why it never worked for me. I would never have guessed that it was genetic. I didn’t know to blame my unibrow on my genes either. Thanks for the useful info, Jenny.

  148. I love doing genealogy research and have considered taking the Amazon.com DNA test. Didn’t know about the other test. I laughed so hard reading this the dogs came in from the other room to sit in front of my chair and peer up at me, worriedly.

  149. I find geneology interesting, but I know my ancestry (including my birthgivers) had so many skeletons in the closet that they had to remove the door. I thought about having one of these DNA tests done, just for kicks. Now, however, I think I’ll pass. I mean, face it… who is going to be able to trump a non-monobrow Neanderthal with wet earwax, asparagus-scented pee, and attached detached earlobes WHO may or may not be on the verge of Vampiredom?

    No chance, here. I’d probably get something like, “Uncoordinated tone-deaf mutt, whose DNA is so fluster-clucked that we gave up. We’re keeping your money, though. You don’t deserve it. You can’t even discard your earwax in a cool way.”

  150. I do sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright sunlight – as do my dad and both sisters. We’d always make bystanders nervous walking out of a movie theater.

  151. Well I know that I don’t need a DNA test to tell me that I sneeze in bright sunlight.

  152. I really want to do a genealogy test! Some relatives have been investigating one side of my family tree, and all we’ve found so far is that everyone who is traceable (back to the mid 1700s I think) has lived in the same 25 mile area and most were involved in the church or were musicians… with the rebels being church musicians. We are a terribly exciting people. At least my generation has moved around more – I changed continents!

  153. Hey, Eddie Izzard also has a lot of Neanderthal in his DNA also. So you are in good company. And the bit about sneezing in sunshine, my husband does that. Evidently 1/3 of humans sneeze when they get into sunlight the first time in the day.

  154. Ancestry gives you access to your raw dna data under settings on your dna home page. You can download it and then upload to promethease.com and get a ton of info for 5 bucks. It picked up the Factor V Leiden mutation that runs in our family along with the type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure likelihoods.

  155. This testing would be interesting because oral history can be so bent. My mother always told us that her brother (dear old square-headed Uncle Wilbur) died when he was kicked by a horse. Which we promptly spread throughout the neighborhood. Turns out he died in prison from cirrhosis. So factoring in how history changes due to embarrassing facts and/or just plain wrong info… DNA testing, yay facts. Also, no uni-brow is cool.

  156. My husband and I both just took the test-should get the results back in about 4 weeks. I’m holding out to be related to Howard Hughes-Hey it could happen…..

  157. Oh, Jenny Lawson…You always make me laugh, like that I didn’t take a deep enough breath for this kind of laugh so there’s a weird gasp half way through. Quite elegant, I’m sure.

  158. I sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright sunlight. Had no idea it was genetically determined – thought I was just wierd!

  159. I sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright sunlight. Had no idea it was genetic! Thought I was just mutant…

  160. Part of me wants to find out that my ancestors were all super smart and powerful and talented, and loved all the same things I do, plus had good teeth, but then part of me fears what the truth actually is, that my ancestors may have been ambitionless suburban neanderthal enviers.

  161. It’s a weird thing. My grandmother grew up on an Indian reservation. She would never talk about it. Like ever. But one of her sisters got into genealogy back when it was sexy in the 1970s and found all these records. They’re 1/2 Indian blood. They were raised on the reservation by their Indian mother and their white/European dad wasn’t around much.

    Along comes ancestry and I see them all listed on the Indian census. As 1/2 Indian. By the way, there was a separate census for Indians. They weren’t regular American people. They were counted separately. Anyway I did my blood DNA test and I’m 6% Native American, it says. I should be 1/8, or 12.5%. But it says half of that.

    If you read the fine print, the percentages aren’t supposed to be all that accurate. They are just associations. People who came off of Indian reservations tend to have this kind of DNA that is similar to about 6% of my DNA. It doesn’t mean a lot in terms of the absolute percentages. That’s what I’m taking from it.

  162. One of my doctor’s offered me a free DNA test which I took. It gave me a lot of medical information, regarding how I react to certain medications. I now know why I cry when I take Valium.

    My nephew has done extensive research on our family, and it is very fascinating. His dad was from Santander, Spain. His dad’s two spinster aunts were not the typical brunettes one typically associates with Spaniards. One aunt was red haired with green eyes, and the other was a blue-eyed blonde. My brother-in-law always said their coloring was due to lousy Irish sailors. When my nephew got his DNA results back, there were no Irish connections at all, but 17% Scandanavian. So now we know it was lousy Viking sailors, not Irish.

  163. My maternal grandmother’s ancestry was traced back to the 1600s in the Telemark region of Norway while my maternal grandfather’s was traced to Oslo. While I appreciate and celebrate my enthic background, I have come to find that it has no bearing on who you consider family.both my older sisters have disowned me, and pretty much excluded me when we were younger. I have always considered my friends as being my family because they’re the ones that understand, accept, and love me as my broken self. DNA aside, family is found in the heart.

  164. I wasn’t aware that Jewish was an ethnicity… Are other religions considered ethnicities? Also cool that we are both part Neanderthal! Have you seen the video about how our ancestors’ voices probably sounded? You can almost see the exact moment when the voice actor’s dignity disappears. https://youtu.be/o589CAu73UM

  165. Well mine said this so I guess I…win?
    “You have fewer Neanderthal variants than 64% of 23andMe customers.
    However, your Neanderthal ancestry accounts for less than 4% of your overall DNA.”

  166. Pff you always succeed in making me laugh about anything even if I’ve had a rough day. I’ve always wanted to try these types of things to learn about my ancestors and what illnesses they carried that made me become the way I am today. I’d love to try it!

  167. Okay the sunlight sneezing thing is LEGIT! I sneeze whenever I walk outside to direct sunlight, and if I ever “lose a sneeze” (like doing the inhale thing then can’t seem to get it out) all I have to do is look at a lightbulb and “KERCHOOO!” there it goes!
    I read some science-y article on it a while back and it’s a genetic thang… so, like, instead of superpowers, sneezes.

  168. My mom and I just did the ancestry.com one at Christmas, but we’re still waiting on the results to come in. As for finding out things that you don’t want to know, genealogical research that my grandfather had done before he died showed that some cousins from a few generations before him had married and had kids.

  169. I just sent my Ancestry DNA test off. Can’t wait for the results. I’m hoping it can at least clarify some of the crazy stories about my family.

  170. Over a decade ago I was in a class called Recombinant DNA Technology as an undergrad. One of our projects was to isolate mitochondrial DNA and then do a basic ancestry analysis. I’m with you on the Neanderthal but I also came back as related to Orangutans. My elderly professor was crying from laughing so hard.

  171. According to my family (if you can believe them) we’re also from the Bohemia/Czechoslovakia area! Kinda made my day that we could have been neighbors back in the old world.

  172. I’ve done my family tree but not the dna stuff. The bit that always bothers me is how far back are you supposed to go. For instance my family came to Australia from England in the 1850s – does that make me English? Because if you go back another seven hundred years the same family line they were Normans – so does that mean I’m French? But then the Normans before they got to Normandy were Scandanavian vikings – so am I a viking? But that’s only one line and even by the time you get back to the 1850s which is roughly great great great great grandparents – there’s like 64 separate lines right there! 64 individual great great great great grandparents! Possibly all from different places! And if you’ve made a mistake anywhere, or if they made a mistake at anytime, you may be tracing complete nonsense. . . . This is roughly the point where I need a nice quiet sit down before I have a stroke and end up reminding myself that if you go back far enough we’re all African and probably descended from the same half a dozen people – possibly even one guy, although I’m not sure how he’s having kids if he’s just one guy by himself.

  173. Being part Neanderthal is super frickin cool, though! You’re part a whole different species. It’s like the closest anyone IRL can come to being part elf or something.

  174. I used to have to rely on family members with expensive subscriptions to genealogy sites, but now so much is available free online. If I google a known name in my family tree, and then just keep clicking on “son of”, “son of” until the line runs out (then back up a generation or two and try “daughter of” for the mother, etc) I can get further back than the genealogists in the family did before. Of course, that assumes that a) the internet is “true”, and b) even if it is, that dozens of generations of women in succession all told the absolute truth about who fathered their children. (hah! clearly disproved in several examples already cited…) Supposedly I’m descended not only from Charlemagne, but also the first Duke of Normandy (Rollo). If you click on each generation of his ancestry, you end up at the father of a Finnish king back in 900 something C.E. At that point, I figure if you have any European/Scandinavian ancestry at all, I’m probably related to you.

    Irish is tricky because Ireland was used as a dumping ground. Whole courtfuls of treasonous nobility and their households were deported to Ireland, in addition to those who tactically retreated there voluntarily. So their generations of “Irish” descendants might not have much Irish DNA. I know I have geographically Irish ancestors in my family tree, but not sure if that’s by way of DNA or deportee.

  175. I’ve been working on my genealogy. Based on what my mother had done, I’d assumed I’d find a long, long line of “semi-literate farmers who lived in one place in England then moved to a different place in New Hampshire and never did anything.” Instead I kept finding royal governors and important leaders, relationships to presidents, a documented line of descent from Charlemagne, and a pirate. Very interesting.

  176. Wow, thank you for making me laugh. Or should I thank 23andme?

    On a side note, I saw this and totally thought of you and how people like you and me can survive the next four years: http://www.businessinsider.com/make-america-kittens-again-google-chrome-extension-replaces-donald-trump-with-kittens-2016-12/#when-you-search-make-america-kittens-again-on-the-chrome-web-store-youll-easily-be-able-to-find-the-extension-all-you-have-to-do-is-hit-the-add-button-and-the-extension-will-be-enabled-on-your-browser-1
    That’s a long URL. But it’s worth it.

  177. No matter what it says, you absolutely have batshit crazy voodoo doctor blood in you, like lots! Obviously! And do you actually read these anyway? If so, I’m so glad you don’t have any of my hair.

  178. The sneezing in sunlight thing is so real. No idea if it has a genetic component, but I’m basically unsafe to drive without sunglasses, and have a tendency to sneeze when I pull out of the garage, sunglasses or no sunglasses. I’m really, really sensitive to light generally (SAD, I can tell you by looking the temperature of your light bulb) so I wonder if those are related.

  179. I’ve done both tests as well, and find it all very fascinating! I have actually found some distant relations, and they’ve all been very nice.

  180. Thanks for sharing this! My family did history awhile back and we’re mutts of European descent, mostly Irish. However, you just solved one of the greatest mysteries of my husband. EVERY TIME he goes outside he starts sneezing and we thought it was allergies but that would mean he would always be sneezing so seeing that up there about the sunlight had me do a quick search and yep he sneezes because of sudden light. Thanks for that mystery solved!

  181. Re “Jewish” – Judaism is a religion, and “Jewish” can be cultural, but throughout European history Jewish people were both kept at arms’ length by the majority Christians, and they tended to keep to themselves of their own accord, so regardless of what country they were born in or moved to, Jews usually married Jews, rsulting in “Jewish” genetic indications same as “irish” and “French” because Irish usually married Irish and French usually married French.

    I’m curious to find out just to settle a bet with myself about the significance of a name that’s been in the family at least 7 generations.

  182. Sweet! I just started reading your blog and I’m loving your writing.
    My mom recently ordered the Ancestry DNA for my birthday. I can’t wait to get it and see the results. Thanks for being awesome ☺

  183. The Neanderthal thing is interesting – it essentially means you’re from a more ancient line of genetic stock than the typical Africans and Europeans. Now I want to go do the Ancestry test – I’ll probably find out I’m entirely unremarkable in every single way. Either that, or the men in black will turn up because I’m not of this planet 🙂

  184. I have the Ancestry DNA test box sitting here. Guess I ought to do it! And, my recent research has shown that my grandfather, who was deceased before I was born and rarely talked about, died in the local metal hospital. And there is no one left in the generation above mine left to ask WTF?

  185. I’m the only one in my family that has the least bit of interest in our own genealogy/dna information. My sister (who knows everything) swore up and down that our mom was half Native-American saying that mom was just ashamed of the fact. Being the one who had actually asked mom about her heritage before she passed, I (who also know everything) knew we were not. I got the tests for my brother, sister and myself and what do you know, but we are 99% British and 1% Northern European. You can’t get much more plain, white bread than that. I would be proud to have a more multi-ethnic background, but alas, we are what we are.

    Found a newspaper article on ancestry.com with a story on a talent show mom was in at 7 years old. She sang a song called, “I Am an Indian Maiden.” Hmmmmm……..

    It’s amazing that any of us are here at all. Think what our ancestors had to do just to survive long enough to give birth to the next generation.

  186. So, does this mean you could drink me under the table? And, what would we do when we get there?

  187. As far as the sneezing at bright sunlight goes, yeah, that’s a thing. I do it all the time, and my husband gives me weird looks every time, but we’re out there!


    Also, I just saw that they made the acronym for the long-form name ACHOO, because sometimes scientists have way too much time on their hands, clearly.

  188. The “nice stories told to you by family”… My mother’s lot were Irish sailors who got around a bit. We have a confirmed sighting of a Breton great-great-grandmother, but the shipwrecked sailors from the Spanish Armada are more speculative. And someone in the 19th (or maybe 18th) century brought home a bride from, er, somewhere in Africa or Asia beginning with “A”? First time I heard that story, she was from the seacoast of Afghanistan. Seems legit.

  189. I’m adopted and can’t wait to get the results back from both sites. Hoping to find a birth family member or 2. I would really like to know where I come from, even if they are bat ass crazy. I fit that mold.

  190. Heh, I am a hidden adoption!! Did an Ancestry DNA test to find ethnicity because I am adopted and was connected to a blood relative, who is now helping me search for my biological parents! We have narrowed my father down to 3 people and then after that we will go find my mom. I have a feeling I am this huge family scandal on her side of the family, yay me!

  191. Huh. Well, seeing as how I had to fight the unibrow for a solid 15 years of my life (before everything went south and now it’s the chin hairs), can smell the asparagus metabolite like a majority of people, and can detect the moisture levels of my own earwax just fine, thankyouverymuch, I can tell one of those tests is of little use to me.
    It would be interesting to find out if the research my grandmother had done matches up with the DNA research.

  192. Two things: I grew up down south and most of the people I knew claimed native American heritage. I think it somehow became en vogue to be related to an American Indian at some point, so everyone has that story in their family but no real evidence. Also, according to my family’s genealogical research, one of my ancestors is a “foundling”, aka he was found in a barn in infancy & raised by the woman in my family who found him… I suspect that is just a cover story, because she was never married.

  193. So a friend of mine was also saying ??? to the “you probably won’t sneee if you look in direct sunlight thing” and I said “wait, you don’t sneeze in direct sunlight? ” I assumed everyone does because everyone in my family does and she’d never heard of such a thing so she figured it was baloney.

    Also, I’m 99.9% European according to 23andme but that last 0.01%? Mongolian. Physically i resemble a member of the Swedish rowing team or something but somewhere in the recesses of my DNA lies a tiny bit of Mongolian heritage. Fascinating.

  194. I thought everybody sneezed when looking at bright lights. I remember my mother telling me when I was a little girl and trying to sneeze: “Look at the light.”

    I learn something new every day.

  195. I read about that the other day,our ancestors got frisky with other races of hominid,not just the Neanderthals,but that very much depends where you come from.
    I really want to get one of those tests done because I know absolutely nothing of my father’s family,and we’re not sure whether my mum’s comes from Italy or France.

  196. Never have been interested in DNA testing for myself. But would love to get it done for two of my dogs. Only thing holding me back is that I have heard that the tests for dogs are very unreliable. Such as a person who sent in a swab just for the heck of it from her purebred show lines Cocker spaniel and the results came back Saluki, Labrador, and Beagle. Um, yeah. Not. If the tests are unreliable for dogs, I would suspect they are unreliable for human beings as well, although perhaps not quite to that degree. I really, really would love to know what the mixes are in my two mixed breed dogs, because it is not at all obvious. But am waiting until I hear better reports of the tests. Anyone here knowing of a reliable test for dogs, let me know!

  197. My father’s family has been in the US since the 1600s. In tracing back through mountains of information on nine generations, I discovered many curiousities. None stuck with me quite like learning that my great-great-great-etc Aunt was named (and baptized) Submit. Yes, really. Submit. And? No, it really didn’t help to discover she went by “Mittie” after she wed.

  198. This is very interesting! Strangely, I’m very interested in other people’s ancestry, not so much my own. I don’t think I would ever shell out money to get my DNA tested, but I love learning about friends who’ve had it done.

  199. Thank you for sharing; I’ve always wondered about them. Clearly they tell you all sorts of things I’ve never thought to ask about. I appreciate its thorough examination.

  200. If it were not too expensive to waste the $$$, I would totally love to see what their tests would do with dog DNA. Yes, I do know there is a way to get your dog tested by a different company to establish what breed(s) they are, but I’d just like to see what kind of response Ancestry.com would have if someone sent them dog DNA instead of human.

    “You are 72% werewolf…”

  201. i LOVE GENEALOGY! I have my husband’s maternal side back to 1400s Scotland and parts of mine to 1600s Sweden. I also connected with my 14 times removed cousin in Sweden and we email back and forth. I keep thinking about doing the DNA thing but it seems so new still that the answers may be quite skewed. I have heard from my family and my husband’s family that we both have Native American but those records are nearly impossible to find thanks to those European bastards coming and taking over the joint. While I think you are right that the Ancestry.com test looks more exact, the 23andme.com one has such valuable information! How else would you know that non-unibrow and non-attached earlobes are your thing 🙂 Thanks for sharing as always!

  202. To Elizabeth back up top at #42 — India is a logical connection for someone with English/Irish ancestry actually — I’d guess that some member of your family was involved in British colonial government of India. And went home with a child.
    As an aside….you share this detail with Princess Diana. A detail that came out long after her death is that her ancester described as “Armenian” was actually Indian.

  203. I just got my mom the 23 & me test, my dad’s been working on her family’s genealogy & has found some Germans that changed their name to an Irish name when they came to Canada. This was pre-WWI, so not sure what they were running from! She flatly denies any German, she was always told that she was Irish, with maybe some French Canadian snuck in somewhere. So, hopefully this will answer the German Question for us! My dad’s side is ridiculously well-documented, all the way back past Richard the Lionhearted. They’re SUPER British, but I’d still like to have him do one, just to see! He thinks they’re unreliable & a waste of $. Maybe my mom’s will change his mind?

  204. I laugh out loud every time I read something you wrote. I am furiously reading FURIOUSLY HAPPY, but, had to stop at the ‘cutting’ story. I hate sharp objects. I left my expensive-ass Victoranox chef’s knife in the cupboard hidden away behind the bowls after it cut me three times: Twice when I was using and the third time when I was cleaning it. When I told my best friend about this, he asked if it was in a ‘time-out’. “…more like ‘life in prison’,” I said. He informed me that it was just the knife’s way of bonding to me. “Well, it ain’t yours until it cuts you – Chef’s code of the kitchen!” I wondered if he was telling me the truth. I gave a second thought to its exile and decided that I would give it a second chance on January 8, 2017. (…film at eleven….)

    …anyway…back to my point…

    Thank you for contributing to your community…I can’t tell you how much this book means to me and to that person in my life who lives with mental illness….you have helped bring a normalcy to this condition and that means a lot to those affected. You have also inspired me to write more often. I do massage…and, when my clients walk into my space there are four note pads & pens outlining the space around the massage table.

    Thank you for being you.


  205. My maternal great-grandparents came from Norway in the 1870’s. They wanted to completely assimilate, so no teaching of Norwegian to their children, which I think is a great loss. I searched genealogy records for years under their last names (as we knew them) and got nowhere. Then, I did the Ancestry DNA test and found out they were ethnic Finns (called Forest Finns, a recognized minority in Norway now) who migrated from Finland across Sweden to the border area with Norway in the 1600’s to early 1700’s. I joined a couple of Forest Finn groups on Facebook and also uploaded my DNA to FamilyTree. Long story somewhat shorter, connected with a cousin who had my great-grandparents’ family line all the way back to Finland in the 1500’s. Now I know what the family name was (Havuinen/Lehmoinen instead of Berg) and am enjoying learning about that part of my heritage. DNA testing made it all possible.

  206. If you take a look at the book ‘Sapiens, A brief History of Mankind’ by Yuval Harari you will find that according to him sapiens started in Africa. There are different types of sapiens (homosapiens, etc.) and speculation as to whether or not some types breed with other types.
    Pretty interesting read. All speculation.

  207. The “sneezing when exposed to sunlight” thing is interesting – I’d never heard of it until I met my best friend’s boyfriend. He, his two brothers, and his dad (basically all the males in his family) have that condition. No joke, they sneeze the second they are exposed to sunlight. Every. Single. Time. It’s the weirdest thing. Incidentally, they’re heavily Irish, so I’m guessing that’s why the statement showed up on your profile.

  208. Had to comment on the sunlight induced sneezing. I never knew it was a thing until my son was born. He is 13 now, and I can’t tell you how many family pictures I have of him with Sneeze Face. Its one of the many things (along with ADD/Anxiety/Executive Function Disorder) that make him awesome and hilarious. I want to map our DNA to find out where that came from!

  209. Trillie You might be surprised. If you had family that survived the plague, it’s possible that you might have the Delta 32 genetic mutation. Why is that cool? Because it prevents infection from both the plague (when it comes back) AND HIV! So that could be cool to know 🙂

  210. I can explain the Sunlight Sneezing Thing if someone hasn’t already. And it IS a Thing because both hubby and my little girl have it. It is strongly genetic, and it’s something you have or you don’t. Basically, if you go from a house to the outside in bright sun, you sneeze. Doesn’t matter the temp. It’s very weird, but sometimes I like to count down from 5 when hubby steps outside in the summer sun, and usually when I reach 2, he’s sneezing.

    Another weirdo genetic thing is mandibular tori. Those are lumps on your gums inside and under your bottom row of teeth that you can feel with the tip of your tongue or your finger. Painless but bizarre, many people have fled to their dentists terrified that cancer was eating their face only to be told tori are completely harmless.

    Bodies are fun.

  211. We must be related. I smell asparagus, don’t have a unibrow, can metabolize alcohol like a mutha! And also was surprised to not find any Native American, since I have genealogical records showing it. Huh.

  212. OK SO
    A million years ago I was watching some David Attenborough type thing and the scientific types casually announced that people with neanderthal genes typically have a middle toe (counting big toe, middle toe) that is longer or just as long as your big toe. (I have it.) Ms. 99% likely, I’m wondering if you do, too.

    (My second toe – next to the big toe – is curiously long. What the hell does that mean? ~ Jenny)

  213. I’ve wanted to do the DNA tests for a while. I joined 23 and me years ago, but never ordered a test. Maybe soon. But in the meantime, I’ll join the chorus and say that I too sneeze in response to bright lights and that I passed the trait on to just one of my three sons. But I too have found it useful when a sneeze gets “stuck.” I just stare at a light until the sneeze shakes itself loose. Interestingly, thinking about the phenomenon a few years ago led to the thought that I had never sneezed myself awake. Have you? This in turn, made me realize I could stop a sneeze in its tracks — usually — by closing my eyes and allowing them to roll back as though I were going to sleep. And when that’s not feasible (e.g., while driving… almost as dangerous as texting… ) I can stop the sneeze by adopting a very “surprised” face, mouth and eyes stretched wide — Kind of like the famous painting “The Scream” . Weird, but it works. At least for me. Why, I don’t know, but I suspect it may have something to do with stretching the affected nerve.
    On another topic, I was listening to Furiously Happy the other day and I recognized myself. I too have experienced the lost arms feeling, a couple of times! First time, many, many years ago. I woke up one morning and reached over to turn off the alarm clock. It might have worked out okay if I hadn’t purposely placed the alarm several feet away on the table so that I had to roll over, plant my right hand on the floor, and swing the left arm over to turn off the alarm. It usually worked fine. But that morning, when I placed that limp right noodle on the floor and rolled toward the clock, I fell right out of the bed and planted my face into the carpet. Luckily, i missed the table. But I was young. No big deal. Picked myself up feeling more than a little stupid and got on with my day.
    The second time happened about a year ago.Somehow, I had fallen asleep on my stomach with BOTH arms underneath me. When I woke in the middle of the night and tried to turn over, I couldn’t move. Neither arm would respond. I had visions of lying there like a beached whale until one of my sons missed me and opened my bedroom door. It took a bit of thinking to figure out if I could swing one leg back and forth, the momentum might help me roll over.
    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your story about the missing arms and the raccoon rodeo. I couldn’t leave the car until I heard the end of the chapter.

  214. The genetics of earwax is so weird. I have lots of wet earwax, and my mom doesn’t have any at all — she literally has to put moisturisers in her ears sometimes because they get so dry. My husband has one ear with wet earwax, and one with dry! He suspects this is because he got one ear from his German-Dutch ancestors, and the other ear from his Tsalagi ancestors.

    It’s also strange that body odor is linked to wet earwax, because I’m part of the 2% of the European-descended population who doesn’t have B.O. [I’ve dealt with hardcore depression my entire life, and once went NINE MONTHS without showering, and I didn’t smell one bit; it was sort of awesome (but not, you know, because I wasn’t able to take care of myself, but you know what I mean)]. When I have a really high fever, I start to smell, but not like other people’s B.O., almost like curdled milk? Which is weird because I became lactose intolerant when my appendix burst [I’m wholeheartedly convinced the purpose of my appendix was to store the lactase enzyme which digested the lactose, because I was drinking cow’s milk with no problems the week before I was in hospital]. Anyway, I was told by a doctor that I have lots of yeast on/in my body [super easy for me to get genital yeast infections, oral thrush, “cradle cap”, etc.], so I think that fever-B.O. I get has something to do with that yeast fermenting, like my entire body is a proofing loaf of bread. ;-P

    That said… I don’t have any need/desire to have my DNA tested because I’ve been researching my family tree for almost 18 years and found that my maternal gramma’s line is descended from famous people/royalty, so pretty well-researched already and not much more to know. I mean, there are other questions and dead-ends just like everyone else has on their tree [such as the identity of my paternal grandfather, since my paternal grandmother was known to get around and she refused to tell me anything more than his surname, which has a dozen spelling variants] — but just from my gramma I already know that I’m European, Northern & Eastern African, Middle Eastern, and Chinese. [Apparently I got the no-B.O. thing from those distant Chinese ancestors?] Just about the only thing I’m not — Native American — my husband has covered, lol.

  215. I LOVE that the sun can make me sneeze. I use it to help when I feel a sneeze coming on, but is taking too long to arrive. I just go have a look at the sun, and I sneeze. Waiting over. If I can’t get outside quick enough, or it’s night time, I have also successfully sneezed by looking directly up into an overhead light until my pupils retract. But then, this is only a handy trick if you like sneezing, which I do!

  216. The Neanderthal thing actually makes a lot of sense. Neanderthals inhabited a very large chunk of Europe for many generations before Homo Sapiens came on the scene. It’s just further proof that your ancestors were living in Europe way, WAY back in the day, which is pretty neat.

  217. Ahhh- DNA – my poor husband found that he had no Native American DNA, either. It was quite a blow to his whole family. I am a genealogy freak. I even did an Ancestry.com commercial. One thing to keep in mind – just because your great-grandpa got off a boat from Switzerland, and had lived in Switzerland, or where ever, does not mean that he was genetically Swiss. His family may have immigrated to Switzerland from Poland and lived there, gotten married there, had their kids baptized there, but they have no Swiss DNA. Don’t get too hung up on it. People get really worked up and pissed off if you challenge their long-held beliefs, or stories they have heard all their lives. They will adamantly deny the DNA evidence and angrily point to the document that grandma had the “proved” they were Swiss – they’ve been eating Swiss food and celebrating Swiss holidays all their lives, dammit! I get it – when you’ve been perversely proud of that “outlaw” relative, and then find out he was really just a serial bigamist who died in prison of cirrhosis of the liver, it’s a bummer.

    One thing that is really cool about DNA though – Ancestry linked me and my dad to a guy who was adopted as a baby, and we’ve been trying to help him figure out who his mom is, as she is almost certainly a second-degree relative of my dad. Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of it someday!

    My next test will probably be the Geno 2.0 Next Generation test from National Geographic. It’s so fun and interesting to learn about all this stuff!

  218. I ALWAYS sneeze when I walk out into bright sunlight! Did my Ancestry last year, waiting on 23andme as I type. I already know my earlobes are detached. And I hope 23andme finds me more than 11% Italian, since the family name is Italian!

  219. LOL Loved this take on it. I want to do mine sometime soon to see what the results are. Thank you for this gentle and hilarious reminder.

  220. Hello there 🙂

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  221. I just started investigating my husband’s family because we know his father was an orphan war refugee from WWII. The communists claimed these polish kids were kidnapped and chased them through Africa, Europe & when they arrived here in Canada (late 40s) NKVD agents were waiting for them at the port. I so want to write this book! Their childhood was horrifically interesting.

    Anyway, I joined a Yahoo group and Facebook group called kresy family. It’s a bunch of people originating from the region of eastern Europe between Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. They now live all over the world, but many in the UK because many of the Polish soldiers went there after the war. Many are genealogy & history buffs. They told me about the “Who do you think you are?” convention in Birmingham, England April 6-8, 2017. They have a booth. My sister and I might go. I know you have the whole avoidance of crowds thing, but this sounds right up your alley. Check it out online, and if you go let me know so I can say hi.

    My sister & uncle did the ancestry DNA test & now you’ve all made me curious about the results. We are White European muts to the best of my knowledge, but great grandma looks more dark/eastern.

    My grandpa was a bootlegger during prohibition, so who knows what lurks in that lineage.

  222. When I ran my kids’, I found out that my son has genes for being non-stinky. Like so incredibly non-stinky it was confused and thought he might be asian. Because, apparently, europeans are known for their stinky DNA. (Note: We are not asian.)

  223. I really want to do the test but never seem to have a few hundred dollars laying around. Silly but the thing that surprised me the most here was that sneezing when exposed to sunlight is a thing. I am totally going to research this!

  224. It’s 0100 and I’m laughing so hard I woke up my old dog AND hurt my hip. (I don’t know either.) I have never done a DNA thing but now I’m curious. Mostly about the unibrow. And sunlight

  225. I actually DO sneeze when exposed to bright light. I remember reading one time that this is a recessive trait. One of my siblings does it too…so does my daughter.

    My earwax is decidedly not moist though. 🙂

  226. This is really awesome. Kudos to you for tackling your ancestry. I agree with you that it’s utterly fascinating. I recently did 23andme and got my results, which are:

    [Sub-Saharan African 76.5%]
    West African 71.6%
    Central & South African 2.9%
    Broadly Sub-Saharan African 2.0%

    [European 21.4%]
    Northwestern European 15.9%
    British & Irish 7.9%
    Scandinavian 1.6%
    Broadly Northwestern European 6.4%
    Southern European 3.3%
    Iberian 1.2%
    Broadly Southern European 2.1%
    Broadly European 2.1%

    [East Asian & Native American 1.1%]
    Southeast Asian 0.6%
    Native American 0.4%
    East Asian < 0.1%
    Broadly East Asian < 0.1%
    Broadly East Asian & Native American < 0.1%

    [Oceanian < 0.1%]
    Broadly Oceanian < 0.1%

    Looking at the map of the world on the website, I thought it was really cool that I have DNA from 6 of the 7 continents. Also, I’m so glad my Native American DNA showed up, as it’s very evident by looking at my (now deceased) maternal grandfather, and there’s a great family tale about an Indian (Creek/Seminole/Muskogee) revenge murder and fleeing from Louisiana in the late 1800s involving one of my great grandfathers.

    Also, thank you for sharing who you are with readers you will never meet. You’re very brave, and you’ve given me the courage to begin.

  227. My brother sent his dna in 2 weeks after I did he got his back a week ago and I still haven’t gotten my back. What could the reason be for that. We did Ancestry dna

  228. My daughter (who was not raised by her biological father) got both tests for Christmas this year, one from her fiance and one from the man who raised her. She knew he was not her biological father, we told her when she was about 9 years old. The sperm donor, as I will call him, has known for a long time that she existed but wants nothing to do with her. Anywho, her Ancestry test came back with some VERY close DNA matches, and come to find out, her biological grandfather, turned out to be a convicted child rapist. The lesson we are taking away from all of this is be careful when you start digging, the skeletons may be horrible. Luckily, I raised a VERY mature, well-adjusted young woman who is taking the info she gets and tucking it away. She mostly wants more medical history, etc. She knows none of this info affects who she is, that came from her dad and I.

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