Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-12 > 0913734325
From: Marilyn R. Otterson< >
Subject: genetics & genealogy
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 10:05:25 -0500
With so many educated folk on this list I am hoping some might have a
good knowledge of genetics who might be able to clarify some comments
made by a friend in regard to genetic inheritance from our ancestors.
We had some guests here last night. The conversation turned to genealogy
because of my interest and one person, a physician, scoffed at my
"juvenile" ideas about features, traits, etc., that we might inherit from
our ancestors. His main point involved DNA and how little there is left
from any particular ancestor after only 4 or 5 generations have passed.
I had always thought that there could be a physical resemblance to a
ggreatgrandparent, a talent passed on to later generation, or height,
weight characteristics that might be inherited. I also have thought it
possible that when complete strangers have very similar features that
perhaps they may have an ancestor in common whose features might have
been handed down over the generations.
He pooh-poohed my idea saying that by the time you have gone back 3 or 4
generations the DNA has been so diluted by the other lines contributing
to offspring that any chance the "family" nose, ears, hair, musical
talent, height, etc., would reappear would be due only to "random
recombination" rather than to family inherited traits. (I think this is
how he described it, but he became so condescending that my brain started
to heat up.) Anyway, he said that is why he is not interested in
studying genealogy because it makes no difference who were your ancestors
after a few generations.
Because I have felt a kind of closeness to my ancestors, especially as I
learn more about some of them, this whole conversation reached the point
of somebody telling a child that there is no Santa Claus...I really began
to feel bad about what he was saying. I could certainly understand what
he was telling me because of course we all realize how many thousands,
hundreds of thousands of people in our ancestry have each contributed
something to us as individuals living today. What I couldn't understand
was the way he was explaining that it literally made no difference who
these ancestors were as there is nothing of their DNA left in us, and
that characteristics we may think we have inherited have, in fact, been
wiped out by the passage of generations.
Just wondering if somebody on the list could clarify some of this for me.
Marilyn in New Hampshire USA
<Aquila non captat muscas>
Marilyn Armstrong Otterson
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|genetics & genealogy by Marilyn R. Otterson< >|