My wife and I recently submitted our DNA samples for analysis by 23andme.com. I was mostly curious about the genetic makeup of my ancestry, while my wife, who was adopted and knows nothing of her genetic lineage, was interested in the various health reports that these tests can identify. Yesterday I got my results, and I have to admit they were a bit shocking.
The one health analysis I was most interested in was the one testing for known gene variants that “may” (emphasize may) indicate a possibility for late onset Alzheimer's. While it was not a known issue in my family line, my mother did suffer from it and it has been a concern in the back of my mind; especially since it has become more common for me to forget important names, words, faces, spouses name, my name – well, you get the drift. The good news is that I do not possess any of the variants tested for in this category. The bad news is my memory apparently just sucks.
The real surprise was my ancestral heritage. While most of it was expected, 80% British/Irish with a small percentage of French/German and Norwegian, the number of variants my DNA possesses from Neanderthal's is apparently off the charts. In fact, I have more Neanderthal variants than 95% of the customers in the 23andMe database.
That means that when it comes to Neanderthal DNA, I am number one, which is good, since that same DNA likely means I cannot count to two. My wife saw those results and told me not to tell anyone. Only a Neanderthal would be stupid enough to write about this in his blog.
Scientists now believe that man was relatively modern when interbreeding began with Neanderthals. DNA sequencing now shows it probably “happened in the middle of an age called the Initial Upper Palaeolithic, when there was an explosion of modern human culture.” Most people of western European descent have some Neanderthal variants in their DNA.
But not as much as me, baby. When it comes to stubborn furrow browed tendencies, it turns out that he who drools really rules.
This is probably not a surprise for many people. Anyone who has engaged in a political argument with me likely already considers me a Neanderthal. It certainly could explain my occasionally obstinate positions on things. And here I thought that obstinance was just because I was always right. Now I just suppose it is because I am too stupid to know the difference. Go figure.
The good news is that well mixed DNA can make for a healthier, more intelligent and robust life form. Just look at any mixed breed dog compared to some purebred lines. I'll take the health and intelligence of a plain old mutt any day over an overbred animal with bad hips and a short life span. My DNA means that I am about as mixed breed as they come, which means I am super duper smart. I know this because I chose the phrase “mixed breed” instead of “interbred,” which would have been misconstrued by persons of lesser genetic material.
There is another bit of good news out of this. My DNA makeup could possibly explain why I took to the workers' compensation system so naturally. After all, the way we do some things is about as caveman as you can get. I've felt at home here from the moment I entered the grotto.
Of course, you've likely been in this industry a long time, too. Maybe you should get your DNA checked as well. If enough of us do it, we might find out the Neanderthal's are not as extinct as once believed.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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