“LONDON – Tom Robinson had long wondered about his family tree. He never suspected its roots might lie in the Mongolian steppe.
The Florida accountant knew that his great, great-grandfather had come to the United States from England â€” but beyond that his research drew a blank. So he turned to the burgeoning field of “bioarchaeology,” having his DNA tested to see what it revealed about his origins.
He was in for a surprise. According to a British geneticist who pioneered the research, Robinson appears to be a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, the Mongol warrior who conquered vast tracts of Asia and Europe in the 13th century.
Robinson said he was startled when he received a call from the firm Oxford Ancestors about a surprising ancestor uncovered by his DNA tests.
“My first impression was, ‘Oh no, who is it’ â€” imagining it was Adolf Hitler or something like that,” said Robinson, 48. “So I was actually pleasantly surprised.”
Robinson thinks his forebear, whose name has long been a byword for violence and cruelty, has had a bad press.
“In addition to being a conqueror, he was a great administrator,” said Robinson, who has been reading up on Genghis Khan. “Their system of governance was fairly sophisticated.”
Established in 2001 by Oxford University geneticist Bryan Sykes, Oxford Ancestors offers DNA testing to people around the world eager to trace their genetic roots.
Sykes believes DNA can be used to map humanity’s common ancestry. In 1994, he extracted DNA from a frozen 5,000-year-old corpse found in the Tyrolean Alps, and identified a woman living in Britain as his descendant.”
Technology allows for us to do some pretty amazing things.