Deeper Roots Genealogy

~ Discovering Your Family's Past To Shape Your Future ~

DNA you didn’t get

DNA is a fascinating topic for genealogy, and an increasingly popular one as well.  I’m talking here about autosomal DNA – not the father-to-son (Y chromosome) or mother-to-daughter (mitochondrial) DNA that goes back to forever.  Autosomal gets at all the other ancestors in between the strict maternal and paternal lines.  Here’s the catch – from each parent, you inherit half your DNA.  That means that you do NOT inherit the other half.  This can lead to some surprising results.

This is a notional example, of course, but you can see how some of the ancestors' DNA simply doesn't get down to the 4th generation.

This is a notional example, of course, but you can see how some of the ancestors’ DNA simply doesn’t get down to the 4th generation.

A friend of mine whose great-grandparent was American Indian (making him 1/8th by blood according to tribal reckoning) was raised with this knowledge of his heritage.  He decided to get his DNA tested for fun recently.  The results were quite interesting – if DNA determines ethnicity, then  he is not American Indian at all!  That is to say, he did not inherit the American Indian DNA that was in his family.  (You share only 12.5% of DNA with any of your great-grandparents- meaning you DON’T share 87.5% of their DNA.)

Being a cultural anthropologist by training, this was fascinating to me.  If we are to take these findings and extrapolate from them, ethnicity really is self-identification.  What heritage do you identify with – traditions, groups, or cultures?  My friend still identifies as part American Indian.  The fact that he didn’t happen to get the DNA is irrelevant.  He still has that heritage and identity regardless of the DNA he received.

They say that blood is thicker than water…it seems that heritage is stronger than DNA.  What do you think?

7 comments on “DNA you didn’t get

  1. Jana Last
    1 August 14


    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    • KC Reid
      1 August 14

      Thanks for including me in your fabulous list of resources, Jana!

  2. Fran @ TravelGenee
    27 July 14

    Hi, reading you blog from the recent listing of New Genealogy Blogs Geneabloggers by Thomas MacEntee. Great to see the diagrams about DNA. A nice way to show the details clearly. Regards Fran

    • KC Reid
      1 August 14

      Thanks, Fran. I am a visual learner myself, so I include graphics whenever I can to explain things.

  3. Kristina1025
    26 July 14

    I just got my AT DNA results back and my cousin and I didn’t not show up as a match. We are trying to convince our siblings to test to find more answers.

    • KC Reid
      26 July 14

      Getting other family members to test is a good idea! The more information you have to correlate, the more likely you are to be able to figure out what’s going on. If you’d like to share what you discover, feel free to post!

  4. currentdescendent
    23 July 14

    It’s really fascinating to learn stuff like this. But it means that we need to open our classifications a bit. Question the boundaries.

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This entry was posted on 23 July 14 by in Stories and tagged , , , , , , , .



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