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Physical differences in a family

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  • Physical differences in a family

    I was given up by my father when I was an infant. I've gone most of my life with just a few pictures of him and some anecdotes. It was obvious that I got much of my appearance from him (dark olive skin, thick, dark curly hair, some facial features), but I was never quite sure from where he got his appearance. His parents were both pale, blonde, blue-eyed, and short. My mother and I have had the notion that he was adopted or the result of an affair.

    But today I did a lot of digging and found his grandfather's name, which opened up a landslide of genetic matches to me. I can trace his maternal and paternal lines, more or less, to the 1500s, with a few hiccups. His paternal line is chiefly German, with a little British and a Danish grandmother and the most distant male ancestor in Switzerland. His maternal line is pretty much exclusively British, with a Scottish strand.

    My question is how did he get his dark, Mediterranean appearance from that lineage? I realize there are dark Germans, as I had a great-uncle (Eckert) who was dark, but my father's and my appearance has always betrayed a more 'ethnic' appearance (I've been mistaken for being from every Mediterranean country, North Africa, and even the Middle East). I've heard of recessive genes before, but how many generations can pass before the likelihood of particular genes governing pigmentation and hair reappear (and then how likely would it be that they could be passed down to the next generation, immediately)? For most of my life I have had an 'exotic' sort of socially presumed ethnicity, so it is a bit surprising for me to confirm that pretty much all of my discernible lineage is Anglo-German, which, with Nordic and Slavic ethnicities, I am most physically unlike--the very things I differentiate most pronouncedly from, I pretty much am.

  • #2
    Never looked into the scientific side, but among fairly close relatives I have two examples that made me a very early believer into recessive genes. Especially one with two brothers one with dark, thick curly hair and tan complexion, and the other with dark blond hair (in his childhood), straight hair and very fair complexion.

    Then some decades later, it turned out that the first brother had some lookalikes among his 3rd and 4th paternal cousins. And they did standout among their siblings.

    W. (Mr.)


    • #3
      His son from a previous marriage is blonde and blue-eyed, I believe.

      I don't know if this is a wild goose chase or not, but on gedmatch I've noticed that I have a number of low-level matches from Italy, especially in the Abruzzo region, particularly centered around Aquila, it seems. These run generally in the 12-17 cM range, using a 1 cM resolution, and include 1 full-blooded Italian and a couple 1/2 Italians whose non-Italian surnames I can't match (although this might not mean that much). Running the same level of resolution against most other regions(other than Lazio and one in the south) yields 0 to nearly 5 cM. shows 5% Italy/Greece, and various gedmatch calculators place me around 8-15% Eastern Med (with 10-15% West Med), with a little bit of Middle Eastern and North African, all of which myOrigins does not pick up (as well as my family tree, which has medieval Normandy and 1500s Switzerland as my southernmost genealogy).