Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project
Science tells us we’re all related—one vast family sharing a common ancestor who lived in Africa 60,000 years ago. But countless questions remain about our great journey from the birthplace of Homo sapiens to the ends of the Earth. How did we end up where we are? When did we get there? Why do we display such a wide range of colors and features? The fossil record offers some answers, but exciting new genetic research reveals many more, since our DNA carries a complete chronicle of our species and its migrations.
In Deep Ancestry, scientist and explorer Spencer Wells shows how tiny genetic changes add up over time into a fascinating story. Using scores of real-life examples, helpful analogies, and detailed diagrams and illustrations, he translates complicated concepts into accessible language and explains exactly how each and every individual’s DNA contributes another piece to the jigsaw puzzle of human history. The book takes readers inside the Genographic Project, the landmark study now assembling the world’s largest collection of population genetic DNA samples and employing the latest in testing technology and computer analysis to examine hundreds of thousands of genetic profiles from all over the globe.
Traveling backward through time from today’s scattered billions to the handful of early humans who are ancestors to us all, Deep Ancestry shows how universal our human heritage really is. It combines sophisticated science with our compelling interest in family history and ethnic identity—and transcends humankind’s shallow distinctions and superficial differences to touch the depths of our common origins.
About the Author(s)
Spencer Wells is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and the director of the Genographic Project. After studying under genetic pioneer Luigi Cavalli-Sforza at Stanford University, he began an unusual career that combines science, writing, and filmmaking. His acclaimed first book, The Journey of Man, combined his own DNA research with the work of archaeologists, paleoanthropologists, paleoclimatologists, and linguists to show how modern humans came to populate the planet.
A Well Written Introduction To An Important Topic, December 11, 2006
The Genographic Project is an ambitious attempt to analyze the DNA records of human beings from around the world. As a participant in the Project, I already knew a bit about the basic levels of DNA research and its applications. Deep Ancestry provides a good grounding for people like me who understand a bit and want to know more about the subject, and also for those who have not yet become involved.
Spencer Wells writes well and has a gift for using personal vignettes to illustrate important points. This is especially useful in describing a field as unfamiliar as DNA research for most people. Many who read Deep Ancestry will be inspired to delve deeper, in which case I would recommend other works by Wells and also those of Bryan Sykes.