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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sometimes an Accountant Is Just an Accountant

Tom Robinson—the Florida accounting professor supposed to be descended from Genghis Khan—has been featured in hundreds of newspapers, and was offered a free trip to Mongolia by a movie company. Then he made the mistake of asking for a second opinion.

The discrepancy occurred because Oxford Ancestors only tested Mr. Robinson's Y chromosome at nine sites, ones at which the DNA mutates quite often between generations. Finding a match between Mr. Robinson and Genghis at seven of nine sites, Dr. [Bryan] Sykes assumed that was good enough to declare a direct relationship, since he had never seen such a match outside of Asia, he said.

But the major branches of the Y chromosome family tree are defined by mutations at sites that change very seldom. Oxford Ancestors did not check the slow-mutating site that defines the branch to which Genghis Khan belongs. [Link]
Despite the headlines reading "Prof Not Direct Descendant of Warlord," Robinson might still be a direct descendant of Khan. This proves only that he didn't descend through a unbroken line of fathers and sons. Believe it or not, several people in the world don't even have a Y chromosome. In fact, there's about a 50-50 chance you're one of them.

Robinson's blog proves that he has retained his Mongolian sense of humor.
The only things I am willing to conclude based on the weight of the evidence at this point is:
  • My Y-Chromosome ancestors were likely nomadic horsemen in Central Asia/Eastern Europe, but not Genghis Khan (and I will not be taken that previously scheduled trip to Mongolia).
  • Vikings may have been involved.
  • While I may be the closest match to the Mongolian DNA from west of the Caucasus mountains in databases at this point in time, other closer matches are likely to be found some of whom will be haplogroup C3. There goes any inheritance!
  • I am an accountant (not practicing), living in the Miami area.

Questors

And we don't suffer from Y-chromosome envy at all!

Chris

I certainly wouldn't flaunt my Y chromosome. What's in my genes is nobody's business but mine.

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