In the past the most you could have hoped to trace your family tree back is just a few generations and roughly discover which area your relatives come from.
But with the advances in new technology a new test that uses DNA can pinpoint your roots much further back in time.
The biological mapping created by scientist’s shows where a person’s ancestors lived up to 1,000 years ago – and in some cases is accurate enough to identify a specific village or tribe.
Previous tests were only accurate to around 450 miles – which in Europe could be two or even three countries away from the place of origin.
Dr Eran Elhaik of the University of Sheffield, who invented the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) test, said: ‘Most people live in houses – they have addresses. They may live in castles, they may live in caves, they may live in tents, but although they were born there, their DNA came from elsewhere.
‘Their DNA was forged through processes of migrations and slavery and victories and conquests but it was not necessarily formed where they currently live.
‘Our question was one of the most basic questions the human species has always been asking – where am I from?’
BBC breakfast weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, is one of the many people who have traced their ancestry using groundbreaking DNA ‘mapping’.
She was thrilled to discover her origins lie in the Scottish town of Crieff, near Perth, Scotland.
The DNA mapping tool can locate the village where your ancestors lived 1,000 years ago.
Dr Elhaik one of the tools creators claim it is 98 per cent successful in locating people to the geographic region of their ancestors.
The technology models the admixture processes to pinpoint where a person’s DNA was formed.
The DNA mapping tool could be used to help in the creation of personalised medicines so that it can be designed to work more effectively with certain genotypes.
Dr Elhaik’s Geographic Population Structure test works by scanning a person’s DNA for parts that date back to the last time two ancestors were from different populations.
For instance, this might be when a Viking invaded Britain and partnered with a local.
He said it can find DNA that was ‘mixed’ in this way up to 1,000 years ago.
Once the DNA has been identified, it is compared with samples from populations around the world that have not moved for hundreds of years.
He then uses a bespoke computer programme which calculates how close to these populations the person’s ancestors lived and maps a location.
Details of the DNA mapping test’s accuracy have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Dr Elhaik, who developed the test with a researcher from the University of Southern California, said it will work for anyone anywhere in the world.
But some limitations with the test have been identified. For example, if a person’s grandparents are all from different areas, it will struggle to pinpoint a location.
While this test is not freely available to the general public yet, AlphaBiolabs provides a DNA ancestry test
to map your DNA to a specific geographical region.
A spokesperson for AlphaBiolabs said yesterday “We welcome any new advances in DNA testing technology, and hope to bring this service to our customers as soon as the technology comes to a commercial market. AlphaBiolabs will always invest in the very latest testing technology to make our testing services more accurate, faster and cost effective when it becomes available.
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