Neanderthal Me

I have been involved for the past 2+ days with travel for and events at the (again very interesting) "Atlantic Meets the Pacific" session, held with UC San Diego in La Jolla. More on that, and other outstanding issues, as soon as I can manage.

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This evening, after a discussion between the Atlantic's editor James Bennet and the geneticist Craig Venter, Spencer Wells of the National Geographic's Genographic project described his ongoing effort to map humanity's origins and migrations through comparing genetic markers in different population groups. I thought it was genuinely interesting -- even before he revealed the results of analyses of the DNA of three Atlantic staffers in attendance: Alexis Madrigal, Steve Clemons, and me.

Each of us had peculiarities in his origin -- in my case, that the mitochondrial DNA on my (mainly Scottish) mother's side didn't really match anything they had seen before. But the real payoff was the Neanderthal test. I am proud to announce that the Atlantic staffer with the most direct descent from Neanderthal man is ... me, with 5 percent of my genes being Neanderthal.

So, watch out. I think I will change my profile picture.