National Geographic : 2009 Sep
Alma Mujezinovic Michelle Brown-Johnston Pedro Aguilar Atsushi Mizukami 100,000 80,000 120,000 years ago 60,000 1 193 volunteers East Africa QUEENS START Michelle Alma Pedro Atsushi • THE BIG IDEA | GENOGRAPHY DNA from a single New York melting pot records the prehistoric migrations that peopled the planet. From Africa to Astoria by way of everywhere Dotted lines represent the genetic histories of the four highlighted volunteers (photographs, far right). Colors represent regions; branch thickness indicates how many of the 193 volunteers had ancestors from each region. All the participants in Queens, like the rest of us, can trace their earliest ancestors to East Africa---the green trunk of the human family tree. FORKING PATHS through prehistory---and branches of the human family tree---are revealed by DNA mutations in 193 volunteers sampled in Astoria, Queens. Mutations known to have arisen in certain times and regions act as wayside markers tracing at least some of a participant's ancient geographic heritage. Four participants are highlighted here; the Queens group as a whole is representative of most, but not all, of the paths our prehistoric ancestors followed as they migrated out of Africa.