Google Play icon

Researcher uses DNA to demonstrate just how closely everyone on Earth is related to everyone else

Share
Posted August 9, 2013
A map showing where the distant cousins of modern-day people in the United Kingdom live, partitioned by the age of their common ancestor (top being most recent). Bigger circles mean more ancestors. Credit: Peter Ralph and Graham Coop

A map showing where the distant cousins of modern-day people in the United Kingdom live, partitioned by the age of their common ancestor (top being most recent). Bigger circles mean more ancestors. Credit: Peter Ralph and Graham Coop

New research by Peter Ralph of USC Dornsife has confirmed that everyone on Earth is related to everyone else on the planet. So the Trojan Family is not just a metaphor. Turns out, we’re also linked by genetics more closely than previously thought.

The assistant professor of computational biology’s background in math and statistics enables him to develop methods and models and perform data analysis on genomic data, which he applies to learn about evolution and demography.

His latest research, which he conducted with Graham Coop, a geneticist at University of California, Davis—his former postdoctoral advisor—provided DNA-based evidence to confirm the mathematical theory that everyone on Earth is related.

“The fact that everyone has two parents means that the number of ancestors for each individual doubles every generation,” Ralph said. “By using basic mathematics, we can calculate that ten generations ago each individual had a thousand ancestors, and 20 generations ago they had a million and so on.

“But when we get to 40 generations ago, in the time of Charlemagne, we arrive at a trillion ancestors and that is a problem because we now have more ancestors than there were people. Thus one can deduce that a lot of those ancestors must be the same person.”

To visualize this concept, Ralph suggests drawing an imaginary family tree.

“At first it does look like a tree, with the branches doubling every generation, but then pretty soon the branches start running into one another and it begins to resemble more of a web-like tapestry as distant cousins marry and share a set of distant grandparents,” he said. “That means that although hardly anyone marries their cousin in Western Europe, many people are unwittingly marrying their 30th cousin.”

Read more at: Phys.org

 

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
86,181 science & technology articles

Most Popular Articles

  1. Scientists Reverse Dementia in Mice with Anti Inflammatory Drugs (December 5, 2019)
  2. NASA Scientists Confirm Water Vapor on Europa (November 19, 2019)
  3. How Do We Colonize Ceres? (November 21, 2019)
  4. Toyota Raize a new cool compact SUV that we will not see in this part of the world (November 24, 2019)
  5. Universe is a Sphere and Not Flat After All According to a New Research (November 7, 2019)

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Tumblr   RSS   Newsletter via Email