10 DNA Myths Busted
The Genetic Genealogist Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D.
will typically destroy the DNA upon request. If the long-term storage of DNA is a concern, be sure to research the
company’s policy before sending in a sample.
9. If my test reveals Native American ancestry, I plan to join a particular Native American affiliation
Although genetic genealogy can potentially reveal Native American ancestry (for instance, my mtDNA belongs to the
Native American haplogroup A2), it is incredibly unlikely that this information will be sufficient to positively identify
the specific source of the lineage (such as a tribe) or allow membership in a particular Native American affiliation.
10. My DNA is so boring that genetic genealogy would be a waste of time and money.
Very wrong! A person’s DNA is a very special possession – although everyone has DNA, everyone’s DNA is different
(okay, except identical twins – if your identical twin has been tested, you should think twice about buying the same
test!). As humans settled the world, Y-DNA and mtDNA spread and mixed randomly. As a result, it is impossible to
guess with 100% assurance that a person’s Y-DNA or mtDNA belongs to a particular haplogroup (a related family of
DNA sequences) without DNA testing.
BONUS MYTH: My genetic genealogy test says that my mtDNA belongs to Haplogroup A2. Juanita the Ice
Maiden, a frozen mummy discovered in the Andes Mountains in Peru, also has Haplogroup A2 mtDNA.
Therefore, she must be my ancestor!
Unfortunately, although genetic genealogy can reveal that a person is RELATED to an ancient DNA source, it cannot prove
that a person is a DESCENDANT of an ancient DNA source. For instance, perhaps you are descended from Juanita’s
sister, or her 5th cousin. Thus, although Juanita might be your great-great-great-great…great-grandmother, she might
instead be your great-great-great-great…great-aunt. And since Juanita died when she was just 12 to 14, it is unlikely she
has any descendants.
If you understand the risks associated with genetic genealogy (such as the detection of non-paternal events) and other
risks) and are ready and willing to embrace the results to learn more about your genetic ancestry, then genetic genealogy
might be for you. I recommend that you read archived posts here at The Genetic Genealogist, and do some online research
through one of the many companies that offer genetic genealogy testing