The Secret Migrations of Celebrity Ancestors

National Geographic Russia and the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper are revealing to the Russian audience migratory secrets of the ancestors of Russian celebrities.

Each of us has DNA molecules - genes that are passed on to us from our mothers and fathers. Different parts of the genetic chain are passed down unchanged on the male side (from father to son) while others are passed down on the women's side. Observation and study of these genetic markers allows us to imagine how, thousands of years ago, small tribes of humans came out of Africa and went on to settle all around the world.

In order to study this in greater depth, scientists developed a new method that is simple and unique. These days anybody can scrape a DNA sample from the inside of their cheek, send it to a research center in Washington, and receive a result online in a matter of weeks, and this is exactly what National geographic Russia did. Among those whose DNA was analyzed were Yegor Titov, captain of the Spartak football club, fantasy writer Sergei Lukyanenko, poet Vladimir Vishnevsky, movie producer Yegor Konchalovsky, politician Irina Khakamada, polar scientist Arthur Chelingarov and pop songstress Vlada Topaleva.

The results showed that the most distant ancestor of Yegor Titov lived 50,000 years ago in what is now Ethiopia and used to draw on cliffs. His line later passed through Iran, where they made decorations out of shells. They arrived in the Balkans at the peak of the last Ice Age and somehow were lucky enough to survive the dangers of that time and keep the line intact. It was only 15,000 years ago that they arrived in Western Europe, and finally, Russia.

As for Vladimir Vishnevsky, his ancestors settled a wide swath along the Mediterranean, on the territory of present day Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon, roughly 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age.

"I've got around a few million countrymen, so it makes sense to live with everyone in peace and friendship," said Vishnevsky upon learning his heritage. It's strange and wrong to make war in our time. You kill some enemy that you shared a (great, great, great...) grandmother with.

Read about the ancestries of other Russian stars every Friday in Komsomolskaya Pravda starting on May 10, 2007.

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