Research uses Sir David Attenboroughs DNA to determine link between Y chromosome and surname

A study carried out by Dr Turi King from the Department of Genetics used the DNA of Sir David Attenborough as part of a larger study to see if there was a link between the Y chromosome and surname, both of which are passed down the male line.

The project also involved examining the Y chromosomes of over 1,600 apparently unrelated men with 40 different surnames.

The study found that for men with uncommon surnames, such as Attenborough, there was a clear link between a Y chromosome type and their surname even though they did not know themselves to be related.

The research suggests as many as 90 per cent of men alive in Britain today with the Attenborough surname (and the spelling variant, Attenborrow) shared a common ancestor with Sir David Attenborough within the past 700 years. 

On Thursday 28 January, Sir David Attenborough returned to our University to deliver the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture on 'Beauty in Nature', where he explored his life-long love with the natural world. The following day, Friday 29 January, Sir David officially opened the new £1.5million gallery extension at Attenborough Arts Centre, the University’s inclusive, multi-use arts venue on Lancaster Road which was championed by his late brother Richard Attenborough. More information about these events can be found here.