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Spencer Wells on George’s Deep Ancestry
February 14, 2012
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On the show tonight: As Director of the Genographic Project, population geneticist Spencer Wells is in the process of charting new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species. His team has collected DNA samples from half a million people around the world - including George's! In this clip, Spencer shares some rather surprising test results with our unknowing (and admittedly nervous) host.

Spencer Wells: Just like everyone else in the world, you started off in Africa, and your ancestors stuck around in Africa for a long time (as did most people's ancestors). Then starting 45-50,000 years ago they migrate out into the Middle East, headed out for the deserts and the mountains in the Middle East. And they stuck around there for maybe 10-20, 000 years ... they had additional changes that were appearing in their DNA at that time ... and so the ultimate defining change for you tells me that you're part of Haplogroup H.

George Stroumboulopoulos: (jokingly) See I always thought I was group C ...

Spencer Wells: So your dad's side is also very interesting - started off in Africa and starts to migrate out of Africa slightly later than your mom's people did....

George: Funny, in the actual marriage he took off much earlier than my mom did (laughs)

Spencer Wells: We also looked at the particular set of genetic markers you have in addition to defining you to being a member of this Haplogroup, we compared you to the entire data base, and roughly half the matches you had were Ashkenazi Jews.


Spencer Wells: So it's not definitive, but there's a chance that your dad's side of the family might have been Jewish.

George: That's amazing!


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