While the PBS series Finding Your Roots made only passing reference to connections between guests, the truth is that each guest is separated from each other guest by at most three degrees — genetically.
It may take far less than six degrees of separation to connect us. Geneticists who worked on the Finding Your Roots series were able to connect guests through just one or two other individuals.
People with similar geographic ancestry share these small differences in their mtDNA or their y-DNA and they are grouped together in what are called haplogroups— specific clans or branches of the human family tree.
For some, these deeper family mysteries take on an additional dimension that goes far beyond curiosity — knowing who that great-great-grandfather was would fill in a critical gap in their understanding of who they are.
Geneticists discuss how DNA and genetics determines our traits, like eye color, and how our shared DNA can surface recurring traits down our family lines.
Geneticists explain DNA, mitochondrial DNA, chromosomes, genomes, and how, with the right tools, our genetics has the power to reveal our ancestry.
Joanna Mountain’s fascination with genetics took off while teaching in Kenya. She later embarked on a research project that helped map the migration routes of our ancestors who lived on the African continent tens of thousands of years ago.
Through census records or conversations with relatives we can recover some of our family histories. But where memories and traditional paper records fail, we now have a new genealogical tool – our own DNA.