Men with same surname may be related

Oct. 9, 2008 at 1:26 AM
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LEICESTER, England, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Men who share the same surname have a 24 percent chance of sharing a common ancestor through that name, British researchers suggest.

However, Turi King, doing doctoral researcher at the University of Leicester, says the odds increases to nearly 50 percent if the surname is rare.

"In Britain, surnames are passed down from father to son. A piece of our DNA, the Y chromosome, is the one part of our genetic material that confers maleness and is passed, like surnames, from father to son," King said in a statement.

"Therefore, a link could exist between a man's surname and the type of Y chromosome he carries. A simple link between name and Y chromosome could in principle connect all men sharing a surname into one large family tree."

King used used genetic fingerprinting on 40 surnames and many different men all bearing the same surname, making sure that she excluded known relatives. Surnames such as Attenborough and Swindlehurst showed that more than 70 percent of the men shared the same or near identical Y chromosome types.

King presented the findings at the Doctoral Inaugural Lectures held at the University of Leicester.

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