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What are haplogroups?

Imagine a giant family tree, with branches representing different lineages stretching back through time. A haplogroup is like a smaller twig on this tree, connecting a specific group of individuals who share a common ancestor. This shared ancestor isn't just any ancestor, though. It's either a single woman in the far past, identified through her mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) (passed down through the maternal line), or a single man, identified through his Y-chromosome DNA (passed down through the paternal line).

The unique thing about a haplogroup is that everyone within it carries a specific genetic mutation, like a tiny spelling mistake in their DNA, inherited from that common ancestor. This mutation acts like a signature, marking them as part of the same extended family, even if they are scattered across the globe and don't share many physical similarities.

By studying haplogroups, we can piece together the puzzle of human migration and evolution. We can see how different groups moved around the world over time, branching off from the main trunk of the family tree and carrying their unique mutations with them. This knowledge helps us understand the deep history of humanity and the incredible journey our ancestors took to reach the present day.

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