DISCOVERING THE ORIGINS OF CHARLES DARWIN
Today, 200 years after his birth, DNA technology has helped determine who Darwin’s ancient ancestors were. Darwin’s great-great-grandson, Chris Darwin, 48, who lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, took a Genographic Project public participation cheek swab test analyzing his “Y” chromosome. According to Dr. Spencer Wells, project director of the Genographic Project, a research partnership between National Geographic and IBM with field support from the Waitt Family Foundation, Darwin’s deep ancestry shows his ancestors left Africa around 45,000 years ago.
“I couldn’t wait to find out my family’s deep ancestry. I suspect that most people would be fascinated to know their family history over the past 60,000 years. After all, how can you understand who you really are, if you don’t know where you have come from?,” Chris Darwin said.
The test revealed that Chris Darwin, and therefore his paternal great-great-grandfather, Charles Darwin, are from Haplogroup R1b, one of the most common European male lineages. “Approximately 70 percent of men in southern England belong to Haplogroup R1b, and in parts of Ireland and Spain that number exceeds 90 percent,” Wells said.