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DNA Link Found Between Frozen Aboriginal Man and 17 Living People 128

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-missing-links-here dept.
The Globe and Mail is reporting that scientists claim to have found a DNA link between the frozen remains of an aboriginal man and 17 living people. "While the work on the human DNA project has opened new doors and work will continue on establishing a fuller family tree, Long Ago Person Found's descendants said they finally have the opportunity to give their ancestor a proper burial. Because his lineage had never been established, no memorial potlatch could be held. Of the 17 people linked through DNA, 15 self-identify with the Wolf Clan, meaning the young man was most likely Wolf as well."
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DNA Link Found Between Frozen Aboriginal Man and 17 Living People

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  • wolf clan ? (Score:3, Funny)

    by jacquesm (154384) <j@SLACKWAREww.com minus distro> on Monday April 28, 2008 @05:50PM (#23230826) Homepage
    and here I was thinking lupus was a species, not a clan...

    • So... you could say that these families are modern day "where wolfs"...

      "...meaning the young man was most likely Wolf as well."

      Geezus... and they are hyping up the DNA as the amazing thing here? come on!... /joking
      • by kyriosdelis (1100427) on Monday April 28, 2008 @06:46PM (#23231384)

        So... you could say that these families are modern day "where wolfs"...
        "There wolf" --->
        "There castle" --->

        (roll, roll, roll in ze hay)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by pipingguy (566974) *
          What terrible spelling and word use. I assume that since it's after 5PM, you have already slipped your brains through slot in door.

          Regards,

          Anthony Bernard Normal
          • by Samah (729132)
            > Anthony Bernard Normal
            Took me a bit to get that...
            Very clever ;)
            PS. PUT THE CANDLE BACK
            • by Artifakt (700173)
              So did this Person Found Wolf Clan guy have an Enormous... personality or something?
               
              • by SL Baur (19540)
                Let's just say he was best friends with the goatse guy. 'Nuf said?
              • by Molochi (555357)
                Probably, the clan is also known for great knockers.
                • by Mugh (949665)
                  Oh man, can you imagine all the family baggage? Could I get anyone to help with the bags? "Sure, you take the blond, and I'll take the one in the Turban."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by frosty_tsm (933163)
      Haven't you ever played Mechwarrior [wikipedia.org]?
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Yeah, just like Cave Bear is a clan.
    • It's never lupus.
    • Re:wolf clan ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by maquah (965242) on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:24PM (#23233310)
      For a great many Aboriginal peoples, Clans or, in my language, Dodems [the source of the English word "Totemic"], are a very important part of family relationships and identity. I am Bear Dodem - that's what my screen name here at SlashDot means, "Bear." I can understand how people who don't know very much about Indigenous traditions - and the beauty which we have with the enduring wisdom of our ancient legacy - might think that our sacred relationships with wolves and bears and eagles... and lots of other animals... are HaHaHa funny. To us, they are sacred. If you'd like to read more, several years ago my (now-deceased) husband, Wub-e-ke-niew, wrote an article explaining some of our culture and its value for us. It's online at http://www.maquah.net/AhnishinahbaeotjibwayReflections/1996/1996-02-11_Ahnishinahaeotjibway_Dodems.html [maquah.net]
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by AdonaiElohim (1062806)
        Just FYI, most of the white people you know probably have "clan" names that are precisely as "sacred" as yours. For example "Garfield" means "spear-field" and signifies a SACRED BATTLE GROUND for the GERMANIC PEOPLES. "Herbert" means "ARMY-BRIGHT". And so on.
        • by maquah (965242)
          Thank you for the insightful information :-) Some European peoples, including the Scots, also had Clans that were similar to our Dodems, although not quite the same. I've known some Scots whose Clan and name were a VERY valued part of their identity! Also, I think that most of those sacred names are courteously respected. So, for example, if George Washington's long-lost relative was found and identified using DNA analysis, that news might not be received with the same kind of jokes about his name as...
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        Too complicated. I just use "savages" as a shortcut.
      • For a great many Aboriginal peoples, Clans or, in my language, Dodems [the source of the English word "Totemic"], are a very important part of family relationships and identity.

        I am Bear Dodem - that's what my screen name here at SlashDot means, "Bear."

        I can understand how people who don't know very much about Indigenous traditions - and the beauty which we have with the enduring wisdom of our ancient legacy - might think that our sacred relationships with wolves and bears and eagles... and lots of other animals... are HaHaHa funny.

        To us, they are sacred. If you'd like to read more, several years ago my (now-deceased) husband, Wub-e-ke-niew, wrote an article explaining some of our culture and its value for us. It's online at http://www.maquah.net/AhnishinahbaeotjibwayReflections/1996/1996-02-11_Ahnishinahaeotjibway_Dodems.html [maquah.net]

        I followed the link, and more, spent an hour or so and have ordered at least one book. Obviously this has touched a chord for me although I certainly belong to the Anglo-European "invader" group.

    • by NerveGas (168686)
      I just thought of Mechwarrior.
    • by goldaryn (834427)

      and here I was thinking lupus was a species, not a clan...
      Never heard of a beowulf cluster? ^_^
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Monday April 28, 2008 @05:51PM (#23230832) Homepage Journal
    He could be. And he probably would be if they checked my DNA. But who knows? TFA is really short on information.
    There is no mention of the methodology of the study, particularly on how the samples were chosen, or if there was a control group.

    Did they decide how close was close enough and then go looking for DNA? Or did they look first and then say "That seems close enough."? To me, the only intellectually honest way to do it would be the former. There has to be a possibility of the answer being "Nobody that we found was close enough".

    I don't wish to criticize these researchers based on the absence of information, but it is remarkably convenient for them that they came up with the politically correct and properly ethnically sensitive result. It makes a cynic like me suspicious.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917)
      The Globe and Mail isn't exactly Science. It's not even Scientific American.

      The article focus almost exclusively on the reactions of people to the news. It mentions a "symposium" but not the name of it or who was holding it.

      Presumably, there will be a journal article out of it, and if that article passes peer review, you'll hear from it again. Meantime, dismiss anything scientific you read in the daily papers. They're just astonishingly bad at reporting science.

      A bit of googling on the name of the one s
    • by icebike (68054)
      > There is no mention of the methodology of the
      > study, particularly on how the samples were
      > chosen, or if there was a control group.

      Control group for DNA analysis?

      • Well...in this case how about a wolf [nih.gov]? Ok...dingo, actually.
      • Control group for DNA analysis?
        Yes. There is a group of people who want him to be linked to their tribe. Call that the test group. Then get another, randomly chosen group, not from that tribe. Call that the control group.
        This can be used to establish what 'close enough' means.
        • by icebike (68054)
          There was never an attempt to establish what "close enough" means. They simply determined that there was a common ancestor.

          For this you don't need control groups. In fact in DNA analysis control groups are rarely used at all any more. It is not necessary. You can read up on DNA analysis here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_analysis [wikipedia.org]

          Further, there is no indication that any of the 17 distant relatives "Wanted" anything, or even knew what there DNA sample was used for.
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Monday April 28, 2008 @06:36PM (#23231260) Homepage
      Well, given that the body's only 150-300 years old, and was found in a remote, sparsely-populated, and geographically isolated area, it's not really all that surprising that some sort of chain of ancestry was able to be established linking him to the present-day natives of that area.

      In fact, I'd be more surprised if a link wasn't found.
      • by seyyah (986027)
        And indeed you are right. If I recall correctly (I heard about it on the radio a few days ago), many of the people tested were not related.
    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Monday April 28, 2008 @06:51PM (#23231458) Homepage Journal
      The place to start might be a Most Recent Common Ancestor [arizona.edu] calculation. You then figure how recent the most recent common ancestor has to be before you consider the people related. Finally, you analyse established Y-DNA or mtDNA markers and look for both the number of markers different and the genetic distance. Scroll down the page for the info [arizona.edu]. From this, you can get the probability that those two individuals share a common ancestor within the designated timeframe.

      A second, and probably more typical approach for archaeological DNA work, is to not bother with such details and just go for a handful of markers, just sufficient to identify the basic group of individuals the person belonged to. Ken Nordvedt has produced a nice set of diagrams [bresnan.net] showing [bresnan.net] how different branches of the I haplogroup are related, with emphasis on the so-called "ultraNorse" group, which appear to have had two founding families.

      If you can identify a specific set of genetic markers that is common to a set of verifiably related individuals that do not occur in verifiably unrelated individuals, then those markers can be used to identify a loosely-defined group. Loosely, because you're only using a few markers and therefore know only limited information about the general deep ancestory, you know very little about the specifics and certainly don't have enough information to get a timeframe. But it's enough to establish a relationship of sorts.

      (A great many English people belong to genetic groups associated with the Anglo-Saxons, for example, but would not necessarily regard themselves as meaningfully related, even though if you go far enough back, they probably are.)

      The Genography project uses 12 Y-DNA markers and Hyper Variable Region 1 from the Mitochondrial DNA. This will tell you something about relationships in the order of a thousand to ten thousand years past. I would not regard this as a good test for this aboriginal man who was only a few hundred years old. 67 markers would be considered adequate for genealogy on the same timeframe because almost all will be exactly the same. The differences over such small timeframes will be only just measurable on a 67-marker comparison.

      The Famous DNA [isogg.org] listings are probably not much better, mostly because they're often reconstructions. Pick N people believed to be descended from X, then find the markers all have in common. Those markers are then assumed to have also been present in X and so if you are a descendent of X. Well, all it actually tells you is if you belong to the same genetic grouping, but that group may be a thousand years prior to X, the common ancestor may have been X's brother/sister (depending on the DNA tested), etc. It can tell you if there's a rough match, but that's it.

    • A...nd I want his bones back! I can see someone trying this as his bones are valueable.
  • Nicholas Kerensky? Was he buried with his Battlemech?
  • Great summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Barny (103770)
    Aboriginal of what continent?

    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      North America. He was found in north British Columbia in '99 when a glacier receded. He died somewhere between 1670 and 1850.
    • I know, I know, we don't RTFA around here. But the answer to your question would be North America. Specifically, they examined people from British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska for similarities to the man frozen in the glacier up there.

    • Why is this modded as Troll? Are we supposed to guess which continent? If so, I would have guessed Australia. Surely the point of a summary is to include the pertinent information?
  • This dude supplied genetic material to SEVENTEEN living people....before the interwebs and pr0n!!!

    He HAD to have crawled out of his Mom's basement to get this lucky!

    Who on /. can claim this same thing: impregnating 17 different people? (or impregnating the same person-or themselves 17 times without cleaning their keyboard and mouse?)

    Damn, you Canucks are a lusty lot! If your winters weren't so cold, I'd move up there!

    P.S. Can you all tell I've been drinking and posting tonight?!?!?
    • by Stevecrox (962208)
      He doesn't have 17 children but 17 possible decendents (with possibly even more) the article states that scientists believe he died somewhere between 1670 and 1850, assuming he had two kids, who in turn had two kids and we have a generation lifecycle of about 30 years (with the latest possible death date), it wouldn't be that out of place to expect 32 decendents assuming the earliest death date there is the possibility of 2643 decendents.

      Of course I've pulled those numbers out of thin air and they could b
      • by rts008 (812749)
        Kudos for the math and statistics, but this was meant to be humorous....my bad!
    • by icebike (68054)
      > his dude supplied genetic material to SEVENTEEN living people..

      Go back and re-read TFA. There have been no descendants identified.

      He shares ancestors with 17 people, through his mother's side.

  • Of course he would have relatives living today. They all work in advertising at Geico. =)

    Sorry. No Refunds.
  • ... was one of the 17, perchance, Steve Ballmer?
    • 17. Steve Ballmer
      16. Donald Trump
      15. Susan Powter
      14. Dennis Kucinich
      13. Ron Popeil
      12. Helen Thomas
      11. Steven Segal
      10. Courtney Love
      9. Rob Schneider
      8. Neil Bush
      7. John Ashcroft
      6. Dan Quayle
      5. Gene Simmons
      4. Kevin Federline
      3. Crispin Glover
      2. Ann Coulter
      1. Cowboy Neal

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read the article and as far as I can tell it doesn't explain how they found those 17 people. Who has a database scientists can check the Aboriginal's DNA against? The police? Did those people sign something that would allow the police to help third parties to search through their DNA?
    • by dryeo (100693)
      According to a different article I read, they asked for volunteers in the area where they found him.
  • I'd say this was somewhat scientifically interesting. They found a body between 150 and 350 years old, and found some of his relatives. I wouldn't claim this as a huge scientific success, and there isn't enough information in the article for the scientific element to be enlightening. I wouldn't be surprised if there was no scientific relevance except for doing DNA tests to determine relationships. That would put it on the scale of scientific interest of paternity suits.
    The bigger part of the article is
    • I was thinking much the same. If this had been a 5,000 year old mummified/frozen man like Otzi the Iceman and they found living relatives it would have been a bit more exciting.
  • by CanadianRealist (1258974) on Monday April 28, 2008 @06:25PM (#23231170)
    Due to the lack of a frozen will, the 17 people will now be heading off to court to fight over who inherits the frozen wooden bowl and spoon found with the man.
  • Perhaps this is a win for genetics research, or perhaps it is indicative of the size of DNA databases, which is more worrisome. Mr. Freeze wasn't really all that old, though. It's like saying they found a genetic link between you and your great great grandfather: Ancestry.com can do that. If they could do the same thing with the frozen remains of a 20,000 year old Neanderthal--now that would be interesting. Not only would it be ground-breaking research, it would mess up all the anthropological theories.
    • Well, I think it's a testament to the size of the DNA database. If the man is 300 years old (I think that's the upper estimate), that is approximately 12 generations back.

      Suppose each generation has two children who live to reproduction. That's 4096 descendants alive today. Considering the world's population is now over 6 gigapersons, that's pretty remarkable that 17 of those 4096 descendants (I know they're only matrilineally related and not true descendants, but I'm fudging for the sake of simple math) ha
      • by dryeo (100693)
        According to a different article I read they were volunteers from the Natives in the same area, so it is not at all surprising they were related.
        No trolling of databases involved
  • Y'know, I'm all for DNA sequencing and more medical research in that area in general, but couldn't the scientists' time (which if I'm not mistaken is ridiculously hard to come by if you need any kind of DNA sequencing done) have been better spent than trying to identify the living relatives of a long, long, long dead guy.

    Like seriously... we could spend time either using DNA sequencing to help solve cold-case murders, or we could sequence this ancient dead guy and a whole pile of people, and see if any of '
    • Public relations, public relations, public relations. If this increases DNA sequencing visibility in the general public's eyes, there might be more funding acquired.
    • One of the interesting things is that we might start looking at how much the sequences have changed over the generations. It would give us an idea of mutation and generatic drift. In addition, if done right, we might be able to pull some virus from his body, which would show that drift as well. THough to be honest, on the later, I think that we might want to be careful. No sense bringing back live small pox.
  • Yukon (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2008 @07:22PM (#23231886)
    Because the summary didn't bother to explain what Wolf Clan....

    This would be the Wolf Clan of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in Yukon, Canada. Their traditional territory is about an hour and a half from Whitehorse, around Haines Junction. I live in Whitehorse but I'm not of this first nation. I believe they had strong trade ties with coastal first nations, I want to say Tlingit but I'm probably wrong.

    It's an interesting discovery and an interesting moment for that first nation.
    • It's an interesting discovery and an interesting moment for that first nation.

      I think its a fascinating development. Anytime we can fit things together like that, there must be more interesting science just around the corner.

      ...laura whose ancestors came to Canada relatively recently (Loyalists on one side, circa 1900 on the other)

  • This is clearly the Ancient Technology Activation gene [wikia.com]
  • Well, pretty soon with Google Genetics, you'll (or at least someone) will be able to see that his descents search for the term 'back hair removal' 15% more than the general population, that the average income of people with those genes is ~18,500USD, and that they have a 85% higher chance of left nostril cancer. Convenient links to scrollable/zoomable views of their houses also available.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2008 @10:57PM (#23234110)
    The irony is that one of them is Kevin Bacon!
  • ...scientists claim to have found a DNA link between the frozen remains of an aboriginal man and 17 living people...

    Ironically, all 17 people have GEICO for their auto insurance.

  • "This reaffirms the integrity of our oral history," Chief Strand said. "Our oral history needs to have a place in your scientific world."

    What?! Most other "oral histories" have been written down by now. Hey, you! Chief Strand! Get yourself a laptop and start write! If you also install LaTeX you won't have to worry about not being scientific, as "LaTeX is the de facto standard for the communication and publication of scientific documents." as read on http://www.latex-project.org/ [latex-project.org].
  • I can't read 'First Nation' without wanting to stick a long finger down my throat.

    Can't we come up with a better phrase to describe them. Why do we need to describe them at all, anyway. Isn't the label part of what makes segregation and discrimination work.

    What happens when their ('First Person' tribes) claim as the first settlers is found to be incorrect; and evidence is uncovered showing that - actually - a Previous People (let's call them that already) were established in central and south Americ
    • by madjia (1233520)

      Can't we come up with a better phrase to describe them. Why do we need to describe them at all, anyway. Isn't the label part of what makes segregation and discrimination work.

      I don't think WE need to describe them at all or give them a name, THEY are perfectly within their rights to name themselves however they want to. I agree that labeling people could help discrimination, but at the same time it is a way of preserving culture. We don't all have the same cultural backgrounds and I for one celebrate diversity and learn from it.

  • Well, I for one, am glad this happened in Canada. Now the family can give him a proper send-off without having to file a lawsuit and wait another generation for conclusion.

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