Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Researchers Identify 'Witch Gene'

AP: Minneapolis, MN

Are witches born or made?

According to the results of a genetic study to be published in next month's Scientific American, the answer is: A.

Dr. Stephanie Fox of the University of Paganistan's Department of Genetics and Epidemiology, announcing the results of a 40-year study, told reporters yesterday, “The Great Witch Families of Europe have long contended that witchery runs in families. We can now say confidently that genetics back up that claim.”

Although the so-called “witch gene” is predominantly present in mitochondrial (maternal) DNA, the study found that it can also be transmitted Y-chromosomally (in the paternal line) as well.

Interestingly, the “witch gene” has been found to be present in every human population so far studied.

“The witch gene is old,” said Dr. Fox. “It looks as if there have been witches for as long as there have been modern humans.”

It remains possible that witches may actually predate the evolution of modern homo sapiens, but genetic studies of other human species (specifically, Neanderthal and Denisovan) and of pre-human hominids (h. erectus) have been so far inconclusive.

“Apparently, it's evolutionarily beneficial for human populations to have witches among them,” Fox said, adding, “We've been here since the beginning, and we'll be here to the end.”

She smiled.

“It's just like in the stories: the witch always gets the last word.”


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Tagged in: DNA genetics RDNA
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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