Special Report: Caveman connection
When I was growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we didn't know that much about our family tree. Except that it could be traced back to Scotland, so long ago, nobody could remember. But now, scientists from national geographic claim they can track my family back 60,000 years, through DNA testing.
Dr. Spencer Wells Genographic Project Explorer at National Geographic says, "We're studying what we call deep ancestry."
Dr. Wells says all humans can trace their roots to one African woman. By studying DNA, he is mapping how the world was populated.
"We're all much more closely related than ever expected," he adds.
I decided to give it a try along with 7's Frances Rivera and Byron Barnett.
To get a DNA sample, we just scraped the inside of our mouths with a swab.
Byron Barnett said, "I found it a little painful but that was because I was scraping so hard because I was really curious."
We sent the samples off, and a month later, the results came back.
Byron's ancestors started in northern Africa, headed south and settled on Africa's west coast. They were the creative Bantu people.
"When I saw this I found it very fascinating," Byron said.
This path is similar for many African-Americans. 400 years ago, the brutal slave trade started here.
Byron said, "I always thought that these secrets about my genetic ancestry would be locked up along with secrets of slavery."
For Frances, more surprises:
Frances said, "It really is amazing how it kind of comes full circle for all of us."
Her family is from the Philippines. The DNA test shows her ancestors left Africa and crossed Asia. They most likely hunted wooly mammoth and antelope to survive the Ice Age.
Frances said, "I never thought that taking just a swab from your cheek could ever be able to give you this path."
People from Frances's lineage apparently even made it to the New World, 20 thousand years ago.
"It was amazing because there have been some people who have mistaken me for Native American, and to see that, it kind of makes sense that maybe there is a little bit of that in the DNA," says Frances.
My path out of Africa heads east to Asia, then turns west to Europe. The DNA results said the cave-painters of southern France were most likely my ancestors.
I was actually part of the modern people who brought culture to Europe. You know, I'm a sophisticated guy and I didn't even know it.
Ancient genetic discoveries are made each month, so you never know where you might end up. The cost for finding out is $100.
(Copyright (c) 2006 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)