By Mark Loper
I’ve been claiming for years that I’m descended from royalty, and for years my claims have elicited raucous laughter.
So I decided to put an end to this humiliation and prove to my naysayers that my blood runs blue.
I sent my saliva to the ancestry site 23andMe . . . and I was stunned.
Because the first thing the report revealed was I had 71% more Neanderthal DNA than all other customers!
So maybe there is a kernel of truth to my wife saying I have a sloping forehead and the table manners of a Neanderthal.
I was also shocked to see how many people registering with 23andMe share my DNA: 1,506 folks!
Now, admittedly, some of these relatives might only share a great-great grandsomething on my 6th cousin’s side, but it’s still an overwhelming family reunion.
In fact, speaking of relatives, my son—against his mother’s vocal wishes—also sent his DNA to 23andMe’s lab.
And, frankly, I’m a bit puzzled why his match with mine is 0%.
The report also breaks down my ancestry composition, which, not surprisingly, is 80% British & Irish and 12% Scandinavian—all countries that had lots of kings!
The other 8% is less definitive, but reading between the lines, I see my lineage reaching back to Marco Polo (I’m pretty sure my parents knew this before naming me), to Stephen King (at a book signing, he gave me an avuncular smile) and (because I actually scored a 00 on an accounting exam), to James Bond.
I’m very confident that what 23andMe has delineated is much more accurate than that sketchy family tree search that my aunt did years ago.
Most of the branches were incomplete but, from what I can recall, on my father’s side, I had a great-aunt who was a logger and a cousin who read.
On my mother’s side, I had an uncle in San Quentin.
But 23andMe took my DNA analysis much further and examined my maternal and paternal haplogroups.
I found this word a bit puzzling but, in layman’s terms, haplogroups (haplo, in caveman-speak, meaning happy or drug-infused) are ancestors with similar DNA in which, for example, on my maternal side, go back 180,000 years!
(This number, 180,000, is one of those unfathomable numbers to grasp . . . much like saying you have a thousand dollars in the bank.)
But where it truly got exciting was in looking at my paternal haplogroup!
Because my distinctive haplogroup, R-M405, can be traced back to royalty!!
I was right!
I am descended from a blue blood!
Because my DNA is shared by Louis XVI of France!
I felt pretty good about myself!
Until I discovered my royal ancestor lost his head to the guillotine.
Mark Loper has been a San Juan Capistrano resident for more than 30 years and has written for several kinds of media, including The Capistrano Dispatch. His writing has been scorned and rejected countless times, but, while hanging onto a wisp of self-esteem, he’s managed to have the occasional scribbling published in book form, in columns, online, on TV and as advertising. He has yet to tweet.
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