Haplogroups, SNPs – Ethnic? Regional? Noooooo, I Want Before Nations, Before Color – Where Was I ‘Pond Scum’?

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, a seat of bigotry, but I learned no matter how fast and how far I ran, there was not a corner of the earth that was not the same. People see people in ethnic, color, creed, religion, etc. terms. I know a Canadian who recalled growing up in southern Ontario and there was no hostility toward Black people or difficulties of race relations with Black people – there were not any. And when there was one African Canadian in class, it was not an issue. This does not address the absence or treatment of First Nations but that is another blog.

Certainly each haplogroup, as a rule, has large clusters of peoples in specific places so some areas are thought of as that haplogroup’s origins because there are many of that group in that place. Once the studies began to show one group is here, and another group is over there, this must have drawn the current genetic ethnic haplogroup map. But humans, particularly for the last 10,000 years have been moving around like we had trains, planes and automobiles and I believe we should not have assumed we have the answers in such concrete terms for the origins and locations and even ages of founder haplogroups.

(I call that place where a person originated – where they were ‘pond scum’.)


Lake Marsh. Photographer Cherie Lynn


I cannot say if slotting peoples/haplogroups into regions and ethnic clans was subconscious expectations – or if that was really what the data looked like – ‘there are a whole bunch of haplo X here, so haplo X must be from here’. But Wells and Khan learn that haplo X might have been from way east of that here and it actually might be from way over there.

There is another article I will dig for and add. Folks thought, think, and still believe, that folks did not move around much until very recent days in time. Now, teeth can be studied and science can read not only where one lived at birth and death from the teeth, but many places in-between. An ancient lady was tested in Western Europe and the science could read where she was like two years before and 5 years before. What the teeth showed was extensive and frequent travel by the lady. I wish I could remember the story better. (LINK). Her travels included recent time in ‘something’ forest in Germany and in the west – oh, was it more British Isles or Scandinavia where she was buried.

Why and when there were mass migrations and displacements of people, the scientist can have the question and own and argue about the answers – I just do not want to see my ancestors haplogroups ethnically slotted before we even know for certain where they are from.

1Copy of 01a Copy of cherie known dna haplogroups

As a girl with no y-DNA of my own I have to learn the haplogroups of all my male ancestors through relatives. Use au-DNA autosomal DNA to prove a relationship between yourself and any surname line male of any ancestral line, and then from them you can know the y-dna haplogroup. I believe men get caught up in the idea of one y-dna haplogroup and that only one means anything. But I love them all and my cousins and family have loved learning about their haplogroups. This kept me from seeing any haplogroup as any one group of peoples.

A tip about learning ancestors y-dna haplogroups – it is important to make sure two people are related, and related in the correct lines to assume a haplogroup for an ancestor. For instance I can search my mother’s autosomal DNA matches for a male of the surname Kidd and I might find one. But what if that male Kidd is not related to my mother via each of their paternal Kidd lines but they might be related on their maternal sides, he might be a different Kidd altogether. Autosomal DNA is across the entire spectrum of a person’s ancestors so learning to read autosomal DNA relationships is important to identifying ancestral lines through all your family tree.

All to often we all rely too heavily on matching in a tree or via a surname. We must or should test relatives from our maternal and paternal sides (I say if you can, test a 2nd cousin from each of your four grandparents lines) to understand how matches are related. If you learn a Lewis male’s y-dna haplogroup but that is not your Lewis, but you are related to that Lewis on his mom’s side then you have not learned the y-dna haplogroup for your Lewis family. So making sure you assign the right haplogroup to the right family is important to be careful.

But all this said, look through your matches for relatives in your autosomal matches and using matches in common ascertain how you are related – if they have tested their y-dna also you can fill in your own chart of haplogroups.

This changed how I saw haplogroups from the beginning, the basics. Next came the variety of haplogroups (with only one or two rarer groups) and all from a relatively narrow region of the map – British Isles and British Isles and maybe British Isles and maybe THE British Isles. There are a couple of known French and German ancestors but we have not yet found their haplogroups.

My Dai’s has not been updated since this chart from 2015 but has enough information to mention.

1 Copy of david dna haplos


I should certainly update this and I just can’t believe we will not find a y-DNA haplogroup for our Thomas Dexter line – I would bet the farm or land patent we will. You see the ancestors named ‘off the chart’ at the top are all from his Quebecois families and would be the New France melting pot and cannot say for certain the origins all all of them but with the variety of E, G, I, J, and of course a couple of R1bs actually four of them the French Empire has the spectrum.

Because R1b is so prolific, I don’t think I ever paid one jot of attention to any guesses about where they first arose as a gene mutation to make a new haplogroup – ‘pond scum’. But as I have noted often for Dai’s G2a I was sucked into one of those pay for a report of your haplogroup, which we all learn a decade later is incorrect. Besides paying the hefty price for the report I also bought Haplogroup-associated gifts which are no longer applicable to Dai’s anthropology.

For Sale: Sarmation coin.


Even the companies now admit – all of Western Europe and the British Isles really have to be lumped into an autosomal melting pot that cannot really be sorted. And the region contains every haplogroup and every gene SNP there ever was and it has been mixed far longer than the last couple 1,000 years.

Yes, there are now some DNA matching databases that have some data of sub-regions across the British Isles and Western Europe but these are modern samples for the most part and is representative more of today than historically.

For Africa we see the continent sorted into about a half a dozen areas for comparison – we must do better than this and we must say, from about 700AD and the expansion of Islam and the vast numbers of people who were taken north and north east for conquests and slavery and maybe areas certainly the entire coast line supplanted with new DNA – at least y-DNA, I want to see more of an effort to find all the ancestral DNA possible to compare to.

There is a new Asian DNA testing company, I don’t know about them but they are needed. With the current companies, they seem to divide the map up very simply, there is Asia and Oceania and maybe… Much of this is because there are not enough samples from many areas and this will change as the databases grow with new participants.

I fight attaching ethnic identity to any haplogroup they certainly do not fit one place anymore and likely have not fit just one place for a long time into the past.

The exciting story in DNA for genealogy and anthropology is that ethnicity and regions and nationalistic histories are thrown out the window for a glimpse into a truly human family history. Even the most remote peoples who have been isolated are also distant cousins of us mongrels of the melting pot migrations – we carry a piece of everybody.

Companies are identifying more SNPs (genes) all the time because there is such a hunger in those of us far down the migration trail – who are asking – ‘where did I come from?’

I become so upset in hearing anyone say – ‘oh this is not something my people can find to have’. ‘oh this is just an American thing or a European thing’. None are true. All peoples, all places can reach out for history today – some may know more than others about their pond scum places but each of us carries the genetics of our own history within us and there are wonderful tests to tell us our genetic stories – all of them.



A recent – AbFab – talk given by our great guru’s of DNA for anthropology, Spencer Wells and Razib Khan noted – there had been beliefs – (I am paraphrasing here and they can correct me please if I am not quoting them perfectly), if a large number of samples of a haplogroup was found in a place, that place must be where it originated.

Wells and Khan now explain, some of the large clusters of men/haplogroups in one place might be where they moved to – where they took over – and not where they were from.

In their amazing talk they also go into re-dating the ages of some haplogroups – worth every minute.




I must link to my earlier note where I also mentioned this podcast with more about both R1b and R1a haplogroups.




One thought on “Haplogroups, SNPs – Ethnic? Regional? Noooooo, I Want Before Nations, Before Color – Where Was I ‘Pond Scum’?

  1. Pingback: y-DNA ~ Begin with 12 STR Markers? | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

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