Jennifer Raff has written an informative summary of what you can actually learn about ancient ancestors from those DNA tests.
- Your DNA is not a good snapshot of your whole family tree more than a few generations back. You have many more genealogical ancestors than you have genetic ancestors.
- Any given individual in the past (including all of the ancient people referenced in the Primeval DNA test) is extremely unlikely to have passed along their DNA to anyone, including you.
- Any person in the distant past—be they anonymous peasant or famous monarch—who passed on their DNA into present times might be your ancestor, but he or she will also likely be the ancestor of everyone else in the world. In other words, as geneticist Dr. Adam Rutherford explained in his post on the subject for The Guardian, “we are all special, which means none of us are.”
I like to turn all that around, and consider our descendants. 1) You’re going to be genetically disintegrated and your bits scattered among your descendants, if any; 2) most of us will not have our specific DNA represented in any distant descendants; and 3) if you do leave descendants, your genes will be dispersed among huge numbers of individuals. Sorry, everyone, there really isn’t any such thing as genetic immortality. I blame sex.
Enjoy your life now.