Genealogy is the study of family. Often, this means a person’s immediate family, their direct ancestors, and so on through the family tree. Genealogy has become intertwined with the study of genetics, including the genetics from the DNA of early humans. 23AndMe has a course that will teach you more about Human Prehistory.
All humans have something in common with each other, genetically speaking. Today, there are several home DNA test kits that genealogists can use to learn more about their heritage. 23AndMe sells one that uses a person’s saliva to extract their DNA, for the purpose of discovering the health and heritage information it holds.
Sometimes, people find that their ancestors came from parts of the globe that they never would have guessed about. It is amazing what a person’s DNA can reveal.
Scientists have learned that all people who have blue eyes share a common ancestor. That ancestor was the first to develop a genetic mutation that affected the pigmentation in the eyes. Other research reveals that not all blonds share a common ancestor. The genetics that result in blond hair developed in two entirely separate parts of the world. A person who is a natural blond today could be a descendant of one of the two people who originally developed the mutation that caused blond hair, (but is very unlikely to be linked to both).
One way to look at the information learned from genetics is that we are all a part of one, huge, human family. How much do you know about your earliest ancestors, or your evolutionary “cousins”? 23AndMe can help genealogists who want to learn more about them, or who want to “brush up” on knowledge that they learned in school, (but have since forgotten).
23andMe is doing some “Back-To-School” stuff in their blog, (which is called “The Spittoon”). They have put together an entertaining series of videos for a course called “Human Prehistory 101”. This course is the first of three “Back-To-School” courses. The videos are done in cartoon format. The longest one takes about seven minutes to watch, and the shortest is around three minutes long. There are five in total.
When you were in school, you might have looked forward to “movie days”. A teacher would show your class a movie rather than doing a typical lesson plan. Just like back then, there is a quiz for you to take after you finish watching the videos for the “Human Prehistory 101” course.
The quiz is part of a sweepstakes. Take the Human Prehistory 101 quiz, and you get a chance to win a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card. You must do this before Tuesday, September 4, 2012. The winner, (and the correct answers) will be announced on Wednesday, September 5, 2012. There will be two more quizzes, and courses, after this one is over!
Image by Erich Ferdinand on Flickr