The History & Possible Future Of Genealogy
Humans have always been interested in our history, where we’ve come from and what forefathers have shaped where we are today. The very first genealogical records that people kept were last names. Family names were used to identify people as descendent from a certain line, the same is true of family crests that can be traced back for centuries in parts of Europe. Later When writing down history became more important, family trees were kept for wealthy and royal families.
As documentation developed vast family trees and genealogical records were recorded and compared, making it possible to research one’s family history back through the generations to find information such as when the family immigrated, famous relatives, and counties of origin and distant relatives. With developments in genetics and the mapping of the human genome, it is now possible to trace lineages back much farther than written records, back to regions and relatives that may not have been known.
Now it is possible to determine if one has ancestors that are African, Native American, European, etc… down to the tribe. The more people that trace their ancestry the more complete our records are. The y chromosome in males can be traced to a root fraternal father, since this genetic material can only be passed from father to son. A large number of Asian and Middle Eastern men have the “Khan” y chromosome, evidence of Ghengis Khan’s powerful empire. Similarly, mitochondrial DNA passes from the mother to the child so it can be traced back to a great maternal grandmother.
There are a small number of mitochondrial “Eves” that all present day humans are in some way related to. As research progresses there is no limit to the detail with which we can trace our histories. Perhaps one day we will be able to create a great network of genealogies and may one day be able to find out just how related we are to each other. Imagine a database that could tell you that you and your best friend are actually 57th cousins! Within all of us we carry the records of all of our ancestors as the DNA they’ve passed to us. We have made great progress in reading the information within DNA and we are inching ever closer to unlocking the history inside us.