What’s in Your Genes? Join a Twitter Chat with Geneticist Spencer Wells

Photo courtesy of The Genographic Project
A local resident from Asturias, Spain sits down with Genographic Project Director Spencer wells to swab with Geno 2.0. Photo by Francisco Viña.

When National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard, best known for his discovery of the R.M.S. Titanic, first participated in the Genographic Project, he expected to confirm what he already knew of his British-Dutch ancestry. But could his DNA tell him more about his ancient relatives?

Dr. Ballard decided to “swab” with National Geographic’s Genographic Project to see if there was more to his ancient ancestors than he originally thought. And indeed, there was more to learn. Dr. Ballard connected with his fellow Explorer and the Genographic Project Director Spencer Wells to discuss his results. Listen to their conversation and learn about how Dr. Ballard’s roots really do go back to the bottom of the Ocean.

Bob Ballard Infographic
Every Geno 2.0 participant receives a personalized infographic detailing their ancient ancestry, including Dr. Robert Ballard (pictured above). Courtesy of The Genographic Project.

Ask your genealogy questions and talk about The Genographic Project, DNA, and human migration this Friday, September 13 at 12pm ET. To join, follow Spencer at @spwells and make sure to tweet your questions with #NatGeoLive. And be sure to follow @Genographic

Now in its 7th year, the Genographic Project has over 600,000 participants. While traditional genealogy may help fill in some branches of your family tree, National Geographic’s Genographic Project uses advance DNA technology to help answer fundamental questions about where humans originated and how we came to populate the Earth. Everyone is invited to trace their own ancient ancestry by purchasing a Geno 2.0 test kit. After taking a simple cheek swab sample and sending your DNA sample to the Genographic Project laboratory for analysis, 6-8 weeks later you will receive your results, including a personalized map of the path your ancient ancestors took out of Africa and a percentage breakdown of your ancestry.

Meanwhile, learn more about The Genographic Project by visiting and following @Genographic on Twitter.


  1. Phedre
    Las Vegas, Nv
    June 27, 2016, 5:23 pm

    Okay here’s a question now that we can go back in time. How does the bloodlines tie into Dr. Wells research? If all life originates from Africa, and O is the predominate blood type on this timeline. What mutations in the orginal timeline evolved the 7 other blood types. Where does there begin a boom of the other blood types based on region, and cultural diversity? And what might have sparked the need for those mutations in the first place?

  2. Joe Ann
    March 8, 2014, 8:41 pm

    Got results for testing mid-year 2013. Female so I just got results based on maternal side. My brother just had his done so got results based on mat. & pat. sides. How do I use his results to refine mine? Percentages were slightly different for us. His included 2 percent native American which Inhave to assume came from our Father? Thanks.

  3. Lastsister
    Denver, CO
    December 21, 2013, 2:36 pm

    Okay I know what haplogroup I belong to T2b3 but that is through MtDNA because I am female and I have no brothers to test for the male side. Am I finished?

  4. DonBlackwell
    Lively Ontario Canada
    November 7, 2013, 9:09 pm

    For a male participant, does the DNA test, obtain information about the paternal, (male) ancestors associated with a participant’s mother and does it obtain maternal information regarding a participants father?

  5. Dianne Foster
    October 25, 2013, 2:00 pm

    The Robert Ballard results and comments were very interesting.
    His New York Dutch ancestry is probably something I share (at least as to national origins) although the source is through the female line and thus harder to track. My first New York ancestor that I know about arrived on Long Island in the 1630’s (from England by way of Boston), although every lineage around his is full of Dutch people too, some with anglicized names later on (cf. the painter Edward Hopper).

    But that this group might have brought in East Asian or Oceanian ancestry – wow. I’ve been in Amsterdam and enjoyed the custom there of the “Ristaffel” restaurants from the East Indies, and I have even known people who were Dutch and also East Indian. But I never imagined it might apply to myself! Yet the history of New York was about an original European group that was very diverse, pretty tolerant, and very well-traveled when it arrived. It definitely intrigues me to pursue this story – and to think the heritage is so recent as well – within the age of exploration.

  6. David DeForest
    Fulton Missouri
    October 10, 2013, 7:38 am

    For a male participant, does the DNA test, obtain information about the paternal, (male) ancestors associated with a participant’s mother and does it obtain maternal information regarding a participants father?

  7. Donald M. Miller
    Greensboro NC
    September 18, 2013, 11:25 pm

    There is some confusion about these dna traces; they have nothing to do with what town in say, Bohemia, your grandmother came from or the ship that brought her to america. This goes back to a period long pre-dating nations and nationalities and is therefore very general and in that sense disappointing. Only in the case of haplogroup K, mine and my wife’s, do

  8. m uhammad yasin
    karachi pakistan and
    September 16, 2013, 9:45 am

    i am very so much intrested to like, and ithingbeing more togetherand knowing that you may have a ommon ancestors with famous people is also really cool .thanks.

  9. laura patricia campos davila
    September 13, 2013, 11:50 pm

    me es sumamente interesante, me gustaría saber el costo en pesos mexicanos y si es posible que toda esta información me la envíen en español ya que no soy muy buena en la traducción y es importante para mi tener muy clara toda esta información. mil gracias

  10. Ramji Narayanan
    September 13, 2013, 10:29 am

    How much do I have to pay for the transport costs of the kit and the swabs from India to the US?

  11. Edward Wilgus
    Bowdoin Maine
    September 13, 2013, 10:28 am

    Is it possible to get a gratis dna kit?

  12. Edward Wilgus
    Bowdoin, Maine
    September 13, 2013, 10:26 am

    Is it possible to get a gratis dna kit.

  13. Bill Farley
    September 12, 2013, 7:12 pm

    Some interesting questions here; where are the answers? (I’m another non-tweeter.) I’m very annoyed that Geno 2 results are not printer-friendly!!!

  14. Alexander
    san mateo Ca.
    September 12, 2013, 5:15 pm

    II received my Kit, mailed it in and got the results. I thought the whole thing so interesting that I purched the upgraded kit -300$ for him to trace our fathers line. he sent in the swab but never received the results. HIs birthday was last September and I know that it did not take a year to receive my results. His birthday is just around the corner.-please e-mail me with some help.

  15. Marilyn McIlvena
    September 12, 2013, 2:09 pm

    I’ve discovered my 2x gr.grandmother was full blood native American adopted by a white family. She was well educated and married my 2x gr. grandfather Springsteel. How can I find more about her native history (American).

  16. Mikki
    United States
    September 12, 2013, 1:45 pm

    I don’t “Tweet” and never did see any article suggeting a “Like” would help me have a chance to win a DNA testing. I think you need to do this over again so all can participate and have the chance to win and ask questions.

  17. Lasha
    Republic of Georgia
    September 12, 2013, 1:30 pm

    Wow, very interesting, does anyone know how can I get similar information about my genes? I’m really into such things 🙂

  18. Joaquin Alberto Gaztambide Mendez
    Manhattan, New York City
    September 12, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I was born in Puerto Rico. I know for a fact that we are of a very diverse gene pool. However, I want to know more specifically what my mitochondrial DNA says about me and my family. I am sure that it has to be fascinating. My ancestry include Spaniards, Basques, French, Italians, Dutch, English, and Lord knows what else. Would you be interested in looking into that?

  19. Donna
    Corona, CA
    September 12, 2013, 12:43 pm

    I was curious about mine, because I have two strong lines. My fathers came from Germany who settled in Pennsylvania who was “David Rittenhouse” the first paper maker,director of the Philadelphia Mint, and more.
    My Mothers side is related to the “Lewis & Clark”, but having a hard time proving it since,y Great Great Grandmother married a white man her tribal papers were burned.

  20. iñigo Noval
    September 12, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Dr. Spencer Wells for 2014 Nobel Price

  21. kiro
    September 12, 2013, 12:10 pm

    Could you please stop telling that the human migrations came from Africa. It’s more than rediculous.

  22. Kate Coughlin
    Washington, D.C.
    September 12, 2013, 11:02 am

    Hi Renay Metzger, Please email us your information at so we can look into this matter for you.

    Hi Anita Goodwin: Please visit for more information on how you can purchase the Geno 2.0 kit.

    Hi Marlene Case: This opportunity is taking place on Twitter. To ask Spencer questions, you can go to and create an account. Then, on Friday at 12pm type the hashtag #NatGeoLive into the search bar to see the conversation. Use #NatGeoLive in your tweets to ask Spencer questions. To find out more about upcoming events with Spencer and the Genographic Project, visit

    – Kate from the Community Team

  23. Carol A. Brown
    Rockville, Indiana USA
    September 12, 2013, 11:01 am

    I would like to know if anyone working on this project is analyzing any Teeth yet that have been found. I belong to HAPLO H from Eve. I had to have my stomach Teeth pulled both were Double Rooted, my Dentist was like in shock, had to show all of his employees. This is not common for those teeth. My thinking is since my Haplo H goes back to about 20,000 B.C. that maybe teeth would give a better time frame as to when they became single rooted. Sorry I do not have Tweeter to Tweet.

  24. Richard Wallish
    San Antonio,TX 78230
    September 12, 2013, 10:33 am

    I spent $200 on my Genographic test and you tell me that I am a Northern European German? I know for a fact from my family tree research in the Czech Republic that I am an Eastern European Slav. I am willing to submit my D.N.A. to create a data base for the Slavic Race. Contact me.

  25. Jim Hayden
    September 12, 2013, 1:08 am

    We do not Twit. We are members of the National Geo Soc.
    How do we get a kit, and how much does it cost.
    Do you have a “Family kit” for both husband and wife?

  26. sharon
    September 12, 2013, 12:00 am

    My husband and I signed up and received gene reports several years ago. What is the status today of the results; is any more information available?

  27. Michelle
    September 12, 2013, 12:00 am

    @ teltaheart: Ida could hardly be called a human ancestor, as it is a primate with a tail that is speculated to be a “missing link” between primates and other mammals. Not between humans and primates! Not an early human.
    I think that there is a lot of speculation about where humans came from, but the current theory is Africa. More knowledge may very well change that theory.

  28. Gary Rosenmeier
    Ohio, U.S.A
    September 11, 2013, 8:05 pm

    I registered and submitted my DNA sample with/to the Genome Project over 5 years ago and have not checked back with it since until a few days ago. Unfortunately, what I thought was my log-in and password did not work. How can get back into the site for updates on my account?

    Thank you!

  29. Joel Pinsker
    Staten Island, NY USA
    September 11, 2013, 6:35 pm

    I submitted a sample and received results in the first project G2a (P145), but I can no longer access the info to look for updates. Is the data still available and if I submit to the new project will the new data be related to the original?

  30. Eleanor Morin
    September 11, 2013, 5:44 pm

    I do not use Twitter. Can I still ask a question?

  31. Jesse Carpenter
    New Mexico, United Sates of America
    September 11, 2013, 5:37 pm

    My haplogroup is R1b1a2a1a1* R-L11* (P310*) or L11+ U106- P312-…. This is based on the csv file results under the advanced section at GENO 2.0, yet at the site it is listed as P310 only…. I assume that this haplogroup is still under investigation. It is my hope that further explanation will be given.

  32. Kathryn Vitek
    Oakland, MD
    September 11, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I have the results of my Gen 2.0 kit and find them very interesting. Would love to participate in the Spencer Wells discussions, but I, too, am a non-tweeter!

  33. Gwen
    Victoria, BC
    September 10, 2013, 9:17 pm

    I am indigenous First Nation to southern Vancouver island, and interested in this project. Thanks for sharing your story!

  34. jeffrey orf
    United States
    September 10, 2013, 8:09 pm

    Im first cousin 5 times removed with Ulysses S GRANT. Pretty cool I thought.

  35. Renay Metzger
    Chattanooga, TN
    September 10, 2013, 12:04 pm

    Hi Spencer,

    I was your 1,000th like on Facebook and I was suppose to receive a Geno 2.0 test kit. What happened? 😉

    Renay Metzger

  36. Mitsuo Tatsuno
    September 10, 2013, 4:26 am

    My Dear Sir
    Befor I had been analyzed about My Father and Mother by Genographic Project. But I has not received my results yet.
    In the future.I can receive my Result?

  37. teltalheart
    September 9, 2013, 12:19 am

    It’s interesting that the conversation on evaluation is kept on Africa, when it’s known that the earliest human ancestor (Ida) of 47 million years ago was found Messel Pit, Germany!

    Should we now all think of ourselves as German? Or would that be Politically Incorrect?

  38. Marlene Case
    September 7, 2013, 2:18 pm

    What if one does not “tweet” and has no idea how to do it? Is there any other way to participate in the Spenser Wells discussion?

  39. Marlene Case
    United States
    September 7, 2013, 2:16 pm

    What if one does not “tweet” and has no idea how to do it? Is there any other way to participate in Spenser Wells discussion?

  40. Anita Goodwin
    September 6, 2013, 10:16 am

    I am very much interested in founding more about my genes. How do i get the gene kit ? How much is it ? and how long does it take to find out? I have always been interested in genealogy . I think its bring human being more together and knowing that you may have a common ancestors with famous people is also really cool 🙂 Kind regards Anita Goodwin