Dawkins DNA Project

False Paternal Events

False paternal event, false paternity non-paternal event, non-paternity event: all these terms refer to a break in the Y chromosome line due to adoption, name change, "extramarital event" (infidelity), child known by other surname (mother's maiden name, stepfather's name), etc. The rate at which this occurs is estimated to be 2%-5%. Thus, out of a group of approximately 20 participants, we might expect that at least one would not match at all. There is always a possibility that you could get disappointing test results. Samples that vary by three or more markers from the main group may do so for a number of reasons. One possibility is that they represent distinct lines either older or younger than the currently observed most frequent line. Another is that there has been a "false paternal event" at an unknown time in the past. This means the male tested may be carrying the surname but his Y chromosome does not appear to be associated with that surname.

False Paternal Events

Types of false paternal events include but are not limited to: Pregnancy outside of a marriage
Pregnant female married man who was not father of child
Man married pregnant widow
Children known by step-father's name
Man took wife's name and/or children given the wife's surname
Man changed name for various reasons
Clerical error in recording administrative data such as assigning a name to the wrong person

It should be stressed that adoptions were quite common in every age: parents died by disease or war and a relative took in the children and raised them with their name, daughters had children out of wedlock and the grandparents (or other relatives) raised the children as their own. A teen-age girl who gets pregnant by one boy and marries another - for whatever reason - might be a more frequent occurence than maternal infidelity in earlier generations. Taking into consideration the strong pressure against "unwed mothers" until the last generation or so, one might expect such cases to account for some of the paternal irregularity indicated by Y-chromosome testing. Mothers, under 18, of first-child sons in the line could be indicators for a higher probability of this phenomenon.

A result indicating a "false paternal event" would certainly be a disappointment to most participants. But your name is legally your name and a small sample size could be misleading. A DNA sequence suggesting a "false paternal event" could be that of the original bloodline - e.g., 20 people are tested, 19 are very similar and yours is clearly different. It could be that the 19 descend from the same person 300 years ago who was adopted while your line links to the original blood line going back 800 years.

If you are a male Dawkins or a female Dawkins with access to a male Dawkins DNA, please consider joining the project. Clicking this link will take you to the registration page.
Dawkins DNA was created and is maintained by Phil Dawkins. Site last updated on 7 Feb 2007
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