Anyone who is fascinated with family history research understands the importance of references, such as an ancestor’s biography and online databases. A will or any other records filed in your county probate court can be very valuable for your LDS family search. However, many of these written records that date back one hundred years or longer are often inaccurate. For instance, census records often have people’s names that are misspelled, family relations, and people’s ages are often incorrect. On the other hand, a person’s DNA will tell you if two people are related, but it won’t say how. It can also give you an estimate of how far back in history your ancestor lived, but it can’t tell who that ancestor may have been. The written records and DNA go hand in hand, what one can’t tell you, the other can in so saying, DNA and written records are outstanding tools for you to use in your LDS family search.
Your DNA Is Your Life Story
Your DNA is the biochemical make-up that is the same as your life’s story. If you have written a good autobiography, someone will have all the information he or she needs to know about you. In the same way, a professional genetics expert who can read your DNA can obtain all the information needed about your genetic make-up. You write your life story using the 26 letters of the English alphabet that are formed into words telling about your life history. On the other hand, DNA is composed of a biochemical alphabet containing only four letters: (A) stands for Adenine, (G) stands for Guanine, (T) stands for Thymine, and (C) stands for Cytosine. These letters are simply molecules that form groups of words that are easily understood by a biochemist, or any other professional, who has been specially trained to read them.
An autobiography is divided into sections that are called Chapters; however, your DNA is also divided into sections, but these sections are called Chromosomes. In the same way that each chapter tells a different segment of your life’s history, each chromosome of your DNA tells an expert a different segment of your biochemical story. The similarities between a written autobiography and a person’s DNA end at this point. If a misprint or typo is found in a chapter of your autobiography, the reader can still understand the meaning of the written text. However, if there is a mistake, or mutation in one of your Chromosomes, this mutation can be fatal to you or any other organism that’s had their DNA tested. You fortunately have two pairs of chromosomes, so if one Chromosome is damaged, you have a second chance to survive if the other chromosome is still healthy.
DNA Mutations Can be Very Important
If one of your ancestors had mutations in his or her DNA, this can be useful to you as a genealogist. When you either make a copy of your life story by hand, via a typewriter, or by typing it into your favourite word processor, it is highly likely that there will be mistakes in your work. When cells are divided within the human body, copies of your DNA are made so that each cell has its own copy of the genome. However, if an error occurs in the copy, it may slightly differ from the original DNA. Fortunately, in the same way a word processor’s spell checker is used to correct most spelling errors, Your DNA has a biochemical spell checking system to rid itself of most mutations that occurred in the copy of your DNA. The down side to using a spell checker when you are writing your autobiography is that it isn’t fool proof. By this I mean that it doesn’t catch all of your typos. In order to catch each typo, you must re-read your text to find any errors you made that your spell checker missed. If you don’t correct these errors, they will be found in each future copy that you make of your manuscript.
This can happen with DNA also, there are those times when the copy of the DNA has a mutation that is not corrected by the chemical spell check. For instance, if the uncorrected mutation is found in an egg or sperm cell, and that cell is mingled with a healthy egg or sperm cell to produce a child, the child will have this mutation in his or her DNA. This mutation will be found in any other copies that are made in future generations. The higher number of copies you make of your manuscript, the greater the likely hood that there will be typing errors in these copies. In the same context, the more generations that are produced in a family line, the more mutations there will be in that particular family’s genome. However, during your LDS family search, the number of mutations in a particular family line can give you a rough idea of how many generations passed before these mutations occurred. This information can give you an estimate of how far back in history the person with these mutations shared a common ancestor with another similar family that doesn’t have these mutations. You don’t have to dig up the graves of your deceased ancestors to obtain information about them; you can deduce the same information about them through the DNA of your living relatives.
When scholars want to find out how many copies of an old manuscript have been made, they don’t compare text, they make a comparison of the errors that were made by the author. When one scribe copied the text in an original manuscript, he added his own characteristic errors to his copy. In the same manner, the next scribe copied these typos to his copy, without knowing that they were errors, and added his own mistakes, and thus it continued down the line. Books that have the same copying errors, possibly came from the same original manuscript, whereas, if two copies of a manuscript are similar, but have many differences in the typos, they probably have a common manuscript ancestor that was written somewhere in the distant past. However, if two manuscripts are very different from each other, they probably didn’t come from the same or even a very similar original version of the copied manuscript.
When it comes to genealogical research, if two people have the same DNA type, called haplotype, it is highly likely that they share a common ancestor in the recent past, but if they are a close match, but their DNA isn’t exactly the same, It’s possible that they share an ancestor in the distant past. On the other hand, if two people have more differences than similarities in their DNA, they probably do not have a common ancestor within any genealogical time period. This is the way that Mutations in people’s DNA can be sorted out to discover which people within a group with the same last name are related to one another, and also help you determine how far back in the past your ancestors lived. On some rare occasions, you may come across an event in your Genetic genealogy, where the DNA of one person doesn’t match that of another member of your legal family. This may happen if a child has been adopted into the family, someone is related into the family by marriage, or a member of your family had an illegitimate child. Although this may be the case in your family, the historical and geographical information you have combined with your Genetic family research can lead you down new and exciting paths of discovery while you are learning your family’s life story.