Is “Looks Like” Evidence?

This is one of those thoughts I’m just throwing out for people to think about:

does “looking like” someone constitute evidence of a relationship?

does it confirm a relationship?

A picture of the mother of the 1st or 2nd “DNA cousin match” to a DNA submitter looks very similar to the mother of the submitter?

What’s that evidence of (if anything)?

Just something to think about.


3 thoughts on “Is “Looks Like” Evidence?

  1. Kathryn Schultz says:

    It may be “interesting,” but it’s not “evidence.” The most bizarre experience I’ve had with a DNA match involved a “gentleman” who was more interested in my getting another of our mutual matches to send him a photo to see whether he looked like his relatives than in corresponding about where our ancestors connected. The other match had already backed off and wouldn’t send him the requested photo. I never heard another word from him after I didn’t try to get it for him. He seemed to put more reliance on family resemblances than on the Y-67 DNA test he had paid so much money for, and that was several years ago when the price was even higher than it is now.

    • I’m in agreement that it’s more interesting than anything else. I’ve got a relatively close match to a test I submitted and the family resemblance in pictures is more icing on the proof cake than it is anything else.

  2. I think it is evidence for, but lack of resemblance is not evidence against. Facial appearance is the result of dozens of genes working together. That, I would say, is more significant and less likely to be a fluke than a shared 50 cM DNA segment.

    While I have lots of family who don’t particularly look like one of their grandparents, I have some lines of descent with a strong family resemblance. One of my brick walls with a DNA clue was overcome with a solid paper trail. When I found photos of the siblings and their children, the resemblance was striking.

    The most amazing example of resemblance in descendants I know is the following: My college roommate is a descendent George Gilson Clapp and her family had a copy of the book “The Clapp Memorial: Record of the Clapp Family in America : Containing Sketches of the Original Six Emigrants, and a Genealogy of Their Descendants Bearing the Name : with a Supplement and the Proceedings at Two Family Meetings.”

    The frontispiece has an engraving of George Gilson Clapp 1739-1806, and he had the same unique nose as my roommate, his 5th great granddaughter. Turns out I am also a relative but I lack the distinctive Clapp nose.

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