Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Genetic genealogy is the application of genetics to traditional genealogy. Genetic genealogy involves the use of genealogical DNA testing to determine the level and type of the genetic relationship between individuals.
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MarcuccioV
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Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

Take a look at the following pic. Especially the man at left (I'll give you a tiny hint -- the kid in the middle is me). If you only had this photograph to go by, what would you guess his ethnicity to be..?

I realize it's a B & W photo, but I can verify his skin was olive/brown, not reddish.

I understand it's slightly blurry, but it's the best I can do with it. Thoughts..?
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Mark

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joetucciarone
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by joetucciarone »

Hi Mark - the man's arm does look darker than you. But where his shirt collar is pulled open, his shoulder looks lighter. Could his neck, face and arm just be suntanned, but his shoulder isn't because it's normally protected by his shirts?
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

joetucciarone wrote: 02 Jun 2021, 11:06 Hi Mark - the man's arm does look darker than you. But where his shirt collar is pulled open, his shoulder looks lighter. Could his neck, face and arm just be suntanned, but his shoulder isn't because it's normally protected by his shirts?
Joe, to an extent, yes (I am the same; my unexposed skin is normally light with a greenish tint but immediately tans dark olive with minimal sun exposure).

I can tell you his exposed skin tone was always this dark. I have other photos of him (in color). Same skin tone.

Want to take a stab at it..?
Mark

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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

Here is why I ask --

My dad was one of 5 brothers (the one pictured is #4, my dad was #2). The middle 3 were olive complected and 2 of them had dark wavy or curly hair (my dad's was dark but straighter), dark brown (almost black) eyes and tanned VERY dark with sun exposure. The oldest & youngest were lighter of skin and with ginger/blond hair (the youngest had blue eyes).

Now on paper, here is their ethnic makeup (approximately):
70% English/Scots-Irish/Welsh
25% Germanic-Dutch
3% French
1% Scandinavian
1% Mixed European

NONE of these would explain the olivine skin tones. And they WERE olive (green veins when untanned, not blue or purple).

Then I throw in my DNA results. Now on my maternal side, it's Italian/Mediterranean (confirmed). Several of the matrices I've tested or uploaded to put MY ethinicity at anywhere from 55-65% Italian.

Coincidence..? Well, then there is this. My 23 & Me chromosome paint report. This is at the 90% (conservative) level. The blue stripes indicate ITALIAN ancestry. Note a few things:

The areas circled in orange show Italian ethnicity on BOTH sides of the chromosome (2 and 15, with 15 being 100% Italian for both parents). The yellow highlighted areas (hard to see) are either eastern Med (7) or Eur (22). The latter might be French/Germanic (Swiss) from my grandmother. The thin black lines & the Y chromosome are untested areas.

Now any one of these factors on it's own might not carry much weight, but I can't get past the combination of all three.

So should I look harder for a potential adoption or foundling of Italian/Med ancestry..? The olive skin tones just don't jive with the paper trail. I know the brothers are ALL products of their parents (they all resemble them and each other in too many ways and I match their offspring's DNA, at least those who have tested).

Another oddity is that an unusual number of my paternal relatives DNA matches have Italian ancestry to at least a minor extent -- again, coincidence..?

And the DNA reports support the olive skin tones but not the paper trail. The photos that I have of their grandparents do not indicate anything but the northern ancestry as far as coloring/features are concerned. I keep searching for answers but as yet I've come up empty. Anyone who may have known anything are long deceased. I have no choice but to grab at straws...
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by darkerhorse »

Do you have a DNA test for your father or any of his siblings (or their parents)?

"People of Mediterranean origin, who are from Italy, Spain, or Turkey, often have olive skin tones. Scandinavian countries like Finland and Norway also produce olive skin, as do Native Americans, Latinos, and some African Americans."

I wouldn't limit your search for hidden olive-skinned ancestors to Italy. Since the paper trail points to Northern Europe, consider the possibility that there might be Scandinavian ancestry recorded as Northern European in the paper trail, perhaps from generations ago.

Or, maybe a Northern European traveler brought back a Sicilian wife, and she was recorded as Northern European in the paper trail.

Then, there's the Black Irish which I think we've discussed. Your father could have a victim of the Spanish Armada in his ancestry.

Any clues from the surnames in your father's line?
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by darkerhorse »

I think the Black Irish include Black Scots, Black Welsh, and Black English as well. Black referring to ancestry from Spain/Portugal resulting in darker-skinned Celts.

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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

Yes, all these are possibilities. The DNA results would point most likely to your last example, as there is NO Iberian, Native American and VERY little Scandinavian (which is much farther back in the tree to account for anything) in the DNA results. The possibility of Moorish you mention I would think would have shown up before their generation, but so far, not so.

Based on the strength of those genes, and the DNA results, it HAS to be much closer to me on the tree. That's why I'm leaning toward a yet unearthed adoption, foundling or even illegitimacy (which I have already found on my maternal side which was a complete shocker to me).

I have only the youngest uncle living (he is in his 80's), but he favors the English/Welsh/Scots-Irish side so I doubt it would be much help.

In some cases the paper trail is based on the research of others as no other evidence exists. However for most of those I have DNA relatives that prove them correct.

I've researched the surnames thoroughly and can find nothing that resembles an Italian surname (even Anglicized). There are a few branches that do not go very far, but no indications of anything unusual there.

And I have to consider (however lightly) the Chromosome paint report.

All-in-all, it's still a mystery awaiting discovery...
Mark

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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by darkerhorse »

My dermatologist says I have olive skin.

I've had no DNA testing, nor have my siblings nor parents.

My paper trail is 50% Sicilian, 25% French-Canadian, and 25% Norwegian, the latter includes a trace of Danish and German.

So, where did my olive skin come from?

In the absence of DNA testing, you'd say Sicilian, but it could be from elsewhere, couldn't it?

For example, I find that Danish people often have unique skin complexions which could be described as olive or tan.

So, my point is to think more broadly, or at least do a parallel search.

My suspicion is that his skin complexion is within normal variation for his mixed ancestry, but if he were my father - and if I was hoping for Italian ancestry on his side of the family - then I'd probably hunt for more answers, too.
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by darkerhorse »

I didn't appreciate your point about recency. That changes things a bit in your favor.

I think your uncle should have a DNA test. You can't go by his looks. Shouldn't he carry very similar DNA as your father? There might be clues. That would be a missed opportunity. I think it's your best bet.

Do any of the surnames suggest anything but Celtic?
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

darkerhorse wrote: 05 Jun 2021, 20:29
So, my point is to think more broadly, or at least do a parallel search.

My suspicion is that his skin complexion is within normal variation for his mixed ancestry, but if he were my father - and if I was hoping for Italian ancestry on his side of the family - then I'd probably hunt for more answers, too.
This is my goal. The information goes both ways. I just want to sort it out.
Mark

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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

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Maybe your father and your uncle have a recent, shared Italian ancestor but your father inherited his carnagione gene and your uncle didn't. However, Italian ancestry should still show up in both. Skin complexion isn't the only DNA inheritance.
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by darkerhorse »

Do you have any records which describe skin complexion for your father's family, like immigration, military, citizenship, etc.?
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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

darkerhorse wrote: 05 Jun 2021, 20:44 Maybe your father and your uncle have a recent, shared Italian ancestor but your father inherited his carnagione gene and your uncle didn't. However, Italian ancestry should still show up in both. Skin complexion isn't the only DNA inheritance.
This is what I'm trying to determine. As I mentioned before, either through adoption, foundling or illegitimacy (that is NOT indicated in the paper trail)...
Mark

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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

darkerhorse wrote: 05 Jun 2021, 20:55 Do you have any records which describe skin complexion for your father's family, like immigration, military, citizenship, etc.?
Nothing that I've found. Only his USMC portrait which shows him in all his glorious olive skin. His family has been in the US since the 1600's (at least most branches). As far as surnames go, mainly UK, German, a bit of Dutch & a splash of French. Not much else...
Mark

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Re: Ethnicity vs. skin tone

Post by MarcuccioV »

My wife DID give me an idea of checking census records to see if anyone in the family had an Italian boarder (thereby opening up the possibility of an illegitimate birth). I'll have to check for that as I know some did keep boarders. I also found 5-10% Italian in HER DNA that I need to look for as well...
Mark

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