Do You Look Like Your Ancestor?

As I was building my Oxborough family tree on Ancestry.com, I stumbled upon a photograph that gave me pause. The photo was of Millicent Edith Oxborough, who was born in 1863 Norfolk, England. Her features looked very familiar to me. After a few moments, I realized that she looked like my half-sister, Sonya, who was born in 1960!

I took this photo and placed it next to one that I had of Sonya. I looked at the eyes, nose, mouth, jawline, chin. Yes, they definitely looked like they had the same features.

On my family tree, I found that Matthew Oxborough (1748 to 1795) was the common ancestor. He was Millicent’s great-grandfather and Sonya’s (5xs) great-grandfather. Sonya’s maternal grandmother was Gladys May Oxborough (1913 to 1977).

I then wondered how two people, who were almost one hundred years apart in age, could look so much alike? Could it be genetics? Did the Oxborough family have a strong DNA trait that could last through generations?

I know little about genetics, so I went online to research this issue. I found “Genetics for Dummies“. The website explained the difference between the dominant and recessive forms of genes.

“A dominant allele completely masks the effects of a recessive allele. A dominant allele produces the same phenotype in heterozygotes and in homozygotes.”

Another site, Learn Genetics, provided a clearer understanding of how these genes work.

“The terms dominant and recessive describe the inheritance patterns of certain traits. That is, they describe how likely it is for a certain phenotype to pass from parent to offspring.”

So, in the Oxborough case, certain dominant traits have survived in both the men and women of the family. That made sense to me.

I also discovered that this gene dominance was not a rarity at all. MyHeritage.com had a contest in 2015 to see who looked more like their ancestor. You can find the photos on Pinterest, too. And, even though the older pictures were in black and white, you could see the similarities right away.

In most families, the offspring get a mix of genes from both parents. Some look like their father and some like their mother. Some are tall, some are short. Some have blue eyes, some have brown eyes. There is no way to predict which genes will be dominant or which will be recessive.

And yet, most family lines do have a dominant factor. My brother, Ray, looks like my Uncle Richard, who is on our Aldous side. Does this mean that Ray’s children would look like our uncle? No. But the odds would place these traits higher on his DNA scale.

While you are building your family tree, take the time to gather and post photos of your ancestors. If you find something amazing, as I did with Millicent and Sonya, it is worth noting on their profile page.

Do you have a family “lookalike?” Please feel free to post your photos on our Facebook page. I would love to view them and start a new contest. Should I call it “Me and My Twin Ancestor?” If you have a better idea for a contest name, leave your message in the Comments Section of this page.