“The greatest history book ever written is the one hidden in our DNA.”
—Dr. Spencer Wells
The Genographic Project is a multiyear research initiative led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells. Dr. Wells and a team of renowned international scientists are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots. The three components of the project are:
- To gather and analyze research data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional peoples around the world
- To invite the general public to join this real-time scientific project and to learn about their own deep ancestry by purchasing a Genographic Project Participation and DNA Ancestry Kit, Geno 2.0
- To use a portion of the proceeds from Geno 2.0 kit sales to further research and the Genographic Legacy Fund, which in turn supports community-led indigenous conservation and revitalization projects
The Genographic Project is anonymous, nonmedical, and nonprofit, and all results are placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication.
Introducing Geno 2.0—A Revolutionary Breakthrough
Building on the science from the first phase of the Genographic Project, we have developed a cutting-edge new test kit, called Geno 2.0, that enables members of the public to participate in the Genographic Project while learning fascinating insights about their own ancestry. The Geno 2.0 test examines a unique collection of nearly 150,000 DNA identifiers, called “markers,” that have been specifically selected to provide unprecedented ancestry-relevant information.
With a simple and painless cheek swab, you submit a sample of your DNA to our lab. We then run a comprehensive analysis to identify thousands of genetic markers on your mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down each generation from mother to child, to reveal your direct maternal deep ancestry. In the case of men, we will also examine markers on the Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son, to reveal your direct paternal deep ancestry. In addition, for all participants, we analyze a collection of more than 130,000 other ancestry-informative markers from across your entire genome to reveal the regional affiliations of your ancestry, offering insights into your ancestors who are not on a direct maternal or paternal line.
The results give you an unprecedented view of your lineage. You will discover the migration paths your ancient ancestors followed thousands of years ago, and learn the details of your ancestral makeup—your branches on the human family tree.
Included in the markers we will test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our hominin cousins, Neanderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago. As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in your genome.
Your results are just the beginning. By regularly visiting the Genographic Project website at www.genographic.com, you can find out much more as Genographic scientists pull together connections, uncover new paths, and provide fresh insights into your ancestry.
You’ll find informative graphics, interactive features, video, and news stories, and learn about the broader historical context of your results.
If you choose to create a personal profile at www.genographic.com, you can share your story with Genographic Project participants, gain further insight into your lineages, and connect with others around the world who share your deep ancestry. Registering also enables you to receive email updates on the project, and ensures you can access your results if you happen to lose your anonymous participant ID at any time.
By contributing your story to the larger community, you’ll take part in a real-time research project and, in the process, may learn something new and fascinating about yourself. It’s like having a subscription to your very own genetic history—and to the history of all of us.
The Human Story
Working together, we are unveiling the story of the greatest journey ever told: how our ancestors migrated from their African homeland to populate the Earth tens of thousands of years ago.
Together we can chart a more complete map of the early stages of human history by carefully comparing the DNA from world populations that have been genetically, and geographically, stable for hundreds or thousands of years.
How many migrations out of Africa were there? What role did the Silk Road, with its caravans and bazaars, play in dispersing genetic lineages across Eurasia? What can our genes tell us about the origins of languages? How did the great empires of history leave their genetic marks on our DNA? And if we all share such a recent common ancestry, why do we all look so different?
These are just some of the important questions the Genographic Project is asking. And through your participation, you will play a valuable role in helping answer them.
Welcome to the expedition of a lifetime.
Photographs by: David Evans (girl, Tajikistan), Jacob Halaska (Machu Picchu), Jean Philippe Schweitzer (Shibuya district, Tokyo)