Your Journey of 60,000 years

Most people that read Gadling are travelers. After talking to a lot of my more mobile friends, I see that they got interested in travel at a young age, often from their family. Turns out, a love for travel can be genetic, and chances are you come from a long, long line of travelers.

The National Geographic Genographic Project headed by Spencer Wells looks at tracing every person’s journey genetically. Wells, who has authored several books on the subject of population genetics, is interested in seeing how people have arrived at their current location. Starting from African and the “one mother theory” about 60,000 years ago, this projects looks at the spread of humans over the earth and their genetic differences and similarities acquired on the way. One can even see how close to extinction the human race was.

Fantastic stories of people crossing the land bridges between continents, trekking through deserts in Africa and sailing across oceans — your ancestors experienced this! You can follow your personal journey, through comparison of DNA, and see where you’ve been and what types of genes you are carrying. I was quite surprised to see my journey. I am very light skinned and fair haired and was shocked to see that I had a lot of genetic connections to Central Asia. Looking at the pictures of people sampled from that region, I saw similar features to my grandfathers and relatives.

The coolest thing about the Genographic project is that it is “people powered.” It needs your participation to work. You can purchase a kit to create your own DNA cheek swab and send in your data. Wells and his team will analyze your chromosomes and compare them with their database. This will give you a personal map and story of your journey.

This project will continue to shed light on migratory patterns and evolution of humans, as a species, for years to come. It will also hopefully show people just how similar we all are and how intertwined our paths have become.