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Ancestry websites that tell you if you're a viking are 'complete bunkum', says expert in ancient DNA
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Ancestry companies who say they can link you back to the Vikings is “complete bunkum”, according to a scientist who worked on the DNA of Cheddar Man. Dr Tom Booth, a bio-archaeologist who specialises in ancient DNA, warned people against basing their identities on the results from such companies, saying that results can become unclear past three centuries. “What I really don’t like about these companies is that they market themselves as linking you to medieval populations, which is complete bunkum, you can’t do that.” He said results begin to get “too cloudy” around three centuries into the past, adding: “The adverts that show they can tell you whether you are Viking or Saxons, I’ve got a problem with that because they can’t. “Because everyone in the 9th century, if they’ve successfully passed on a descendant, is your ancestor.” Dr Booth worked alongside Dr Selina Brace to understand the DNA testing of Britain’s oldest known skeleton, Cheddar Man. Dr Booth worked alongside Dr Selina Brace to understand the DNA testing of Britain’s oldest known skeleton, Cheddar Man Credit: Tom Barnes/Television Stills Speaking at Chalke Valley History Festival on Monday, Dr Booth spoke about the significance of modern DNA testing on ancient bones and how this technology had allowed scientists to discover the identity of the skeleton. He warned against people “constructing their entire identities around tests” from DNA companies saying it was “not a good way to go”. Ancestry companies are more limited in their capabilities to trace results as they are often relying solely on saliva samples.  In the research of Cheddar Man, scientists were able to drill bone and analyse teeth, giving them much more detailed results. read more
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