Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Geneticist Bryan Sykes discusses examining America, one of the most genetically diverse countries in the world, through its DNA, and what it says about how we perceive race. His book DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America takes readers on a historical genetic tour, interviewing genealogists, geneticists, anthropologists, and everyday Americans about their ancestral stories.


Bryan Sykes

Comments [25]


Bryan Sykes mentioned that is pancreas was black. What did he mean by that? Does he have diabetes?

May. 02 2012 12:49 PM
soso from brooklyn

I was wondering if any work has been done about north africans and particularly berbers and their ancestry (particularly of the "kabyle" tribe of north algeria)..I am from this origin and we have yet to figure out the origins of our scripts and languages which are different from arabic..
thank you for anyone who can point me towards some research,articles done in this field

Apr. 27 2012 12:52 AM
Ralphem NJ from Monmouth County NJ

National Geographic sponsors a terrific DNA experiment called the Genographic Project. For a $99 fee you can have either your maternal or paternal DNA lines charted and they'll provide a map showing the paths your ancient ancestors travelled as humans migrated out of Africa. Genographic also provides an excellent DVD about the science and discoveries behind the project, and the fees help pay for additional DNA sampling from all over the world to help fill in gaps in the genome tracks. Fascinating. It does not, however, tell you exactly who or where your specific ancestors settled -- that's something that commercial ancestry tracers offer. But if you want to be part of the exploding DNA revolution, this is a way to get your individual DNA into the data pool -- this is one of the first major global samplings of DNA and should provide a benchmark for all future DNA studies. Within a few years or so, DNA sampling will be affordable and accessible for all manner of testing, but for now it's still in its infancy. There is lots of cool DNA info on the Geographic/Genographic website:
-- the website is a bit confusing, so a little digging is called for, but it's well worth the effort. If you liked today's Lopate program with Brian Sykes, check this out.

Apr. 24 2012 01:19 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Now you're talking...

Since the GOP push is to needs tests access to our entitlement programs why not means based fines...

Apr. 24 2012 12:46 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

hmmmm....Does the originating motive matter? Until you can prove that people who are not paid, don't read...

Otherwise, this is pretty standard NLP logic - mimic the behavior and habits that you want to develop. Typical Tony Robbins stuff.

Apr. 24 2012 12:42 PM
Amy from Manhattan

James Billings, all people (& all living things) have genetic mutations in every generation. The descendants of people who left Africa are believed to have developed lighter-colored skin to help them produce more vitamin D in their skin from sunlight when they lived in areas that got less sun than the parts of Africa where their ancestors lived.

Apr. 24 2012 12:37 PM
Yoine Cohen from Brooklyn NY

The story of Jewish origins, once the province of historians and scholars of religion, is now being told by DNA—and it decisively refutes the counter-narratives promulgated by Shlomo Sand. Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education.

Apr. 24 2012 12:35 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Some people try to delegitimize European Jews by saying they're all descended from the converted Khazars. What percentage of European Jews actually have genetic markers that can be traced to the Khazars?

Apr. 24 2012 12:31 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I can understand why some African-Americans are upset to learn they have some European ancestry, considering how little choice their African & early African-American ancestors had about it.

Apr. 24 2012 12:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think searching for one's roots is as natural and instinct as an adopted person searching for his mother and father. It's just so natural to want to know your true ancestral people. Of course, if we go back far enough, we are all AFricans.

Apr. 24 2012 12:28 PM
Urbangranolagirl from Jersey City

Does Bryan Sykes have any thoughts on personalized medicine, and prediction of how soon (or if) this will become a widely adopted practice.

Apr. 24 2012 12:26 PM
David from Boonton, NJ

My understanding is that DNA can tell us about our geographic origins, but this is separate from race, because race is not determined by biology, rather it is determined by social boundaries and legal categories rather than strict biology.

Apr. 24 2012 12:24 PM
MN from Queens

Hi Susanne

when you look at a map of the world you can see that Siberia and Alaska are really part of the same landmass in much the same way that england is a part of Europe. just dont look at the world at the equator but rather from the north west north America and north east Asia are extensions of each other. there are many people on both sides of the being strait that have relatives on both sides and used to be able to move back and forth..

Apr. 24 2012 12:24 PM
William from Manhattan

Was Dr. Sykes able to obtain any information about the Lenape (of Mannahatta)?

Apr. 24 2012 12:22 PM

Fascinating guest

Apr. 24 2012 12:21 PM
MN from Queens

I have to say as a Navajo that I can see our genetic relationship with central Asians and Mongolians. We share so many things as well as looking 100% alike... there has even been linguistic work done on linking our Athabascan language with khet in Siberia by E Vjarda in Wash state. Our languages are not intelligible between us but we share many phonemes and knowing Navajo helps me speak Mongolian and kazakh with less accent...

Apr. 24 2012 12:20 PM
James Billings from NJ

I've always heard that all caucasians contain a mutated gene, hence the pale skin.

Apr. 24 2012 12:19 PM
suzanne from manhattan

Please clarify: is Native American DNA Asian meaning that they arrived on this continent by crossing into Alaska?

Apr. 24 2012 12:18 PM
Amy from Manhattan

What are the conditions that favor preservation of DNA in early human specimens?

Apr. 24 2012 12:18 PM
GW from Manhattan

With so many labs offering to analyze dna I often wonder how to tell which ones are legitimate and which DNA test will tell me my ethnic make up some tests only tell deep ancestry and not the genetic mix can you advise on that if we want to find out just what mix we are?

Apr. 24 2012 12:17 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

What I would like to know is what percentage of the estimated 13.5 million Jews in the world today have genetic markers indicating Middle Eastern origins? Does your guest have any clue as to the answer? Thank you.

Apr. 24 2012 12:16 PM

i'd like to hear more about all these southern black passing as white?

Apr. 24 2012 12:15 PM
Jon from Manhattan

I was under the impression that there is no genetic basis for race, Please explain.

Apr. 24 2012 12:15 PM
MC from Manhattan

Curious on how the blood type was influenced by Native American ancestry ..does this have something to do with a reference to the AB blood type being recent in human history?

Apr. 24 2012 12:14 PM

I have both native American and old New England DNA, fyi, rather pleased to have it!

Apr. 24 2012 12:12 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.