Status: Apparently True
Tom Robinson, a mild-mannered professor of Accounting living in Florida, has been identified as a descendant of the fierce Mongol warlord, Genghis Khan
. When informed of his ancestor, Robinson expressed admiration for the Mongol leader, but has not yet indicated any plans to begin a campaign of raping and pillaging.
Although it sounds odd, the science behind the claim seems valid enough. It stems from a 2003 genetic study that identified Genghis Khan as the common ancestor of 8 percent of Asian men. A British company, Oxford Ancestors, searched its client database to find more matches with Genghis Khan and identified Tom Robinson as one of his descendants. He is the first man of European or American background to be so identified. Here's how the match was made:
The link is revealed by the Y chromosome, a packet of DNA that determines male sex, which is passed down from father to son. Men who share a Y chromosome are invariably descended from the same man at some point in the past, and the accumulation of mutations can be used to date the common ancestor. Women do not have a Y chromosome, so they cannot be tested in the same way, although millions are likely also to be descended from the warlord.
The Mongolian embassy is going to be holding a reception in Robinson's honor next month. Like I said, the science seems sound enough, but the entire article about this guy reads like an extended advertisement for Oxford Ancestors
, which is now inviting the general public (men only) to submit DNA samples to find out if they too are descended from Genghis Khan. It'll cost you only £195.