Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fascinating Fact #7: The Ireland Iceland Connection

Aside from 6 letters in the same order, Ireland and Iceland also share something else in common: mitochondrial DNA (mDNA). mDNA is the kind of DNA you get from your mother. It, in fact, is handed down daughter to daughter, generation after generation. What is interesting about Iceland is that even though it is assuredly Scandinavian, a good share of its mDNA is closely related to women who lived in Ireland thousands of years ago.

How is this possible?
you ask. Space aliens? While space aliens would be a very satisfying answer, scholars speculate that the real answer is much more earthy: rape and pillage. You see for centuries Vikings terrorized the British isles, storming in and stealing goods and women. When settling Iceland randy and wifeless Norwegians took a nip into Ireland and stole some them some wives. Ipso facto.



  1. There is a whole Viking episode in Irish history, I happen to know after having visited a museum on the subject. Very interesting, the story of DNA--frankly, the story of DNA must largely be about rape and pillage, no? Sobering, also.

    Also, Iceland has, as you no doubt know, one of the most contained pools of DNA because of its isolation, which makes it an excellent place to research all kinds of genetic issues.

  2. La Lissa and I are hoping that we can visit Iceland sometime during our stay out east. There is a 350-mile road that circumnavigates the island, passing glaciers and fishing villages. My dream is to bike tour it over the summer. Ironically, the Icelandic economy is in complete shambles now due to bank failures, a primary depositor of which was Ireland. Unlike the DNA, that money is gone forever.