“Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”Bill Gates
In addition to the paternal Y-DNA haplogroup, 23andMe also analyzed and reported my maternal mtDNA haplogroup.
Unlike the autosomal and sex (XY) chromosomes, mtDNA is derived from the mitochondrial DNA. If you’ve spent much time in a US high school biology class, you’ll remember the mitochondria as the fabled “powerhouse of the cell”. It also carries a unique DNA signature that is passed from mother-to-child. This line allows you to trace your maternal genetic heritage, from mother to her mother to her mother and beyond, back to an ancient “Eve”-like ancestor.
Unfortunately, due to the paternal surname-only naming structure that our culture tends to use, this information, while interesting, isn’t as useful in a genealogical sense. While I know my maternal line as many generations back as my paternal line, I don’t have the hint of a surname to help trace any further back.
I’ve long thought that we should carry two surnames, one for our paternal line and the other our maternal line. Based on the earliest female ancestors I have knowledge of, I’d have been John of Keating-Hammersley. My father would have been John of Keating-Durst and his father would have been John of Keating-Warnick. My mother would have been Mary of Migan-Hammersley and her mother would have been Rita of Hobbs-Hammersley. (Obviously, if this naming pattern existed, those maternal names would have been that of someone much earlier…)
Dreams of genealogical could-have-beens aside, my mtDNA Haplogroup is H3, which probably began some 9,000 to 11,000 years ago and is common over Europe. Unfortunately, I’m not sure which subgroup my maternal ancestresses derived from. Perhaps in a few years, I’ll dig deeper into the maternal line and find a descendant haplogroup that is a bit closer to the present time.
But, mtDNA is still new to me. Is there more out there that I’m not aware of, or is it still at the level of interesting, but not very useful in generating a family history?