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Listed below are the most common question and answers about the project. If you have any questions about the project that are not here please contact me and I will do my best to answer your questions.   

DNA Project FAQs

What is yDNA?

A good explanation can be found here. But, briefly a person’s paternal ancestry can be traced by DNA on the Y-Chromosome or yDNA for short. Only men have a Y-Chromosome, which they inherited from their father and will pass on to their sons. What this means is that a man will have exactly the same DNA as his father and his father before him and so on. Scientific research throughout the world has shown that all our paternal lines are connected somewhere in the past and that these connections can be traced by reading the yDNA. The yDNA mutates very slowly over generations which means we may be able to connect up many lines and see if there was a common ancestor.

So what does this mean?

Only males with the surname Dawkins can submit samples and join the project, sorry girls...you just don't have a Y chromosone. As with maternal genealogies defined by mtDNA, men tend to cluster into a small number of groups, which can be defined by the genetic fingerprints of their yDNA.

What if I'm a female researcher?

You may have a qualifing family member (male carrying the surname). For example, you are a female using your father's DNA. Other female family historians/researchers are using a brother, cousin, or uncle. If there is no longer a qualified male in your line, you may choose to donate towards the testing of a qualified male who descends from a line of interest to you (a male Dawkins who is willing, but cannot afford the test).

What if I'm a male researcher who's mother is a Dawkins and my surname is not?

The same will apply as above in "What if I'm a female researcher?" You will need to get a male with the surname Dawkins in your family to supply the sample for you. Your own surname will be ineligible as you will carry the wrong families' yDNA.

I'm a male Dawkins of African origin, can I still join?

Yes, of course you can. We already have one American/African in the project.

What if I'm a female Dawkins of African origin?

The same applies to you as does to non Afican females who have joined the project. Provided you can supply a male Dawkins yDNA sample from your family you can join.

Ok, so how does DNA testing help?

As you know surnames are generally passed down the male line from father to son, just like the male Y-Chromosome. This means that you also can use your Y-Line to investigate your paternal lines alongside the more traditional genealogical sources. By supplying a sample of your DNA which can then be compared with others, it can then be established whether a connection is present. The test result is a series of numbers, called a haplotype. By comparing your numbers to others with your surname you can determine with a high degree of probability if you share a common ancestor; the results do not tell you exactly how you are related. A single test is useless - it must be compared to others carrying the same surname and used in conjunction with traditional research (e.g., pedigree/ancestor chart, etc.). In addition to testing, we need information (e.g., pedigree chart) on each participant's line of descent from the earliest known male ancestor. This helps to identify the various unconnected links.

Do you need many people to join?

Yes. Most groups with large studies began with already existing family associations as a base for participants. They also have the advantage of documented family trees. But we have to start somewhere. It is possible that most of us will not have a match in the beginning. This is sort of like being one of the first people to have a telephone - it's good to be on the cutting edge of a new field, but there are not a lot of people to call.

What do you need?

You need to be a male Dawkins with Dawkins as a surname. A mother being a Dawkins is unfortunately unacceptable. And a sample of your body fluid. Don't worry it doesn't involve a visit to the doctors or a hospital and it is quite painless (I think ). Least of all it's not embarrassing.

How do I supply a sample?

It is a buccal test (sounds like buckle). From a mouth swab, which you rub around inside the mouth collecting saliva and bits of the last meal you ate which is placed and sealed in a sterile container. This all comes as a supplied kit. You take the test at home and take one sample and put it in a little vial of "soapy" solution; you then take another sample at least 8 hours later. The kit includes instructions, two "scrapers," two vials of "soapy" solution, a release form, and a return envelope.

How does the test work?

When you test, your results will be a series of numbers (markers); this set of numbers is called a haplotype. A haplotype, or genetic haplotype, is often referred to as a "fingerprint" or "signature." However, be assured that there is a big difference between a real fingerprint and the project's Y test result. Generally speaking, a real fingerprint is unique to an individual (no two are alike) and can be used to identify that individual. The project's Y test result is not unique to an individual. Several persons from different lines can come up with exactly the same results - in fact, we hope they do!

How many markers are used?

Either 12, 37 or 67 markers. You can choose the marker tests to be carried out. Although I recommend the 12 to start with. In the beginning, there were only 12 markers available. Later many projects continued to suggest a 12 marker test since it was less expensive. The idea was, if there was not a close match, the participant saved money because he only paid for 12 markers. If there was a close match, then he'd be willing to pay more for the upgrade. Now many project managers recommend the 37 if the participant can afford it. However, it is a less expensive way to find out if you are close to another participant.

Is it like a paternity test?

No, a Y-DNA test only looks at the Y chromosome (one of 23 chromosomes that a man has). A paternity test does not look at the Y; it looks at the other 22 which recombine in each generation. The Y does not recombine which is why it can be so successfully used for male direct line descent genealogy.

What happens next?

The sample is then sent off to the testing laboratory and analysed. It's then compared with other samples in the database and the results sent back to you and me.

How long does it take for my results?

At the moment about 7 to 8 weeks for the results to be returned after they have been analyzed and compared with genetics database.

What do you do with the information?

The information will be used to connect (or not) the various Dawkins families. Hopefully this will prove the various family connections. None of the DNA information is passed to any third party outside the project. Those involved will be Myself as organizer, yourself and the laboratory doing the testing. All results are confidential. See the privacy page here. By joining the project you agree to let the project have copies of your dna results. You can withdraw from the project at any time. The results will be available on the website without names and on the FamilyTreesDNA website in the the projects registered users section. Participants will be able to access each others names.

What if there's a connection?

This means somewhere along the line we are related, and have a common ancestor...if thats the case then there may be a paper trail. But, the further back you go the harder it is to make the connection.

What's the downside?

At the moment the cost. But, if enough people express an interest maybe the cost will come down as a project. Although I think that the present cost will eventually fall.

So, how much is it?

Joining the project is free. But, the test isn't. We have chosen FamilyTreeDNA based in the US as best value for money. The cost is as low as 55 or $99 per person. These are group project rates. Individual rates are much higher.

Who pays?

Unfortunately, you will be responsible for registering with the laboratory and paying any fees. I can't afford it!!

What about privacy?

Take a look at the Dawkins DNA Project privacy page here.

How do I join the project?

Click here and join the project. You will receive your kit in the post. However I would like a copy of your Dawkins pedigree.

Word of caution

There is always a chance there was an unknown adoption, infidelity, etc sometime in the past. That is why it is desirable to have two or more males who are distant cousins tested for each known line to prove the line to a common male ancestor and establish the genetic identification of that line. Be sure to read False Paternal Events page. If you know that you, or an earlier ancestor with your surname, were adopted into the family, you do NOT want to participate in a project for your legal surname because you carry a different Y chromosome. And, of course, errors in your research may be the cause of unexpected test results.

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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