Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Shallow Roots of the Human Family Tree

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the easy-to-blow-away dept.

760

An anonymous reader writes to mention an AP story about research discussing the relatively recent origins of every human on earth. Despite the age of our species, every human on earth can trace their ancestry back to someone who may have lived as recently as the Golden Age of Greece (around 500 BC). From the article: "It is human nature to wonder about our ancestors -- who they were, where they lived, what they were like. People trace their genealogy, collect antiques and visit historical sites hoping to capture just a glimpse of those who came before, to locate themselves in the sweep of history and position themselves in the web of human existence. But few people realize just how intricately that web connects them not just to people living on the planet today, but to everyone who ever lived."

cancel ×

760 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Eww yuck! (-1, Flamebait)

t0qer (230538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646594)

You mean there's a chance I could be related to michael?

Re:Eww yuck! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646600)

Well, I've heard that semen can remain in the body for quite a long time...

Re:Eww yuck! (1)

BunnyClaws (753889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646607)

Or am I related to Kevin Bacon? I do find this a very interesting topic. Now it is even possible to have your DNA tested to find what your ethnic ancestory background is. This area of research can go along way into removing a lot of racial prejudice in our society.

Re:Eww yuck! (4, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646687)

No it wouldn't. Despite the wealth of information available today, racists will consider people with different color skin or slightly differently shaped eyes to be less than human. There is no rationale behind it whatsoever and having a pedigree to show that say, (for the most common example) a white supremacist and Martin Luther King Jr. share common ancestors 60 or so generations back would not change their attitudes.

Re:Eww yuck! (4, Funny)

bsartist (550317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646748)

There is no rationale behind it whatsoever and having a pedigree to show that say, (for the most common example) a white supremacist and Martin Luther King Jr. share common ancestors 60 or so generations back would not change their attitudes.
You're right, it wouldn't change any attitudes. But it would get you a beating from a bunch of pissed-off skinheads.

Re:Eww yuck! (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646854)

Taking that train of thought even further, having such a pedigree to show that you really have 'pure' WASP ancestry (for example, though practically impossible) would be a badge of honor for white supremisist groups (and any other hatemongering clubs). Though kimvette is right, it wouldn't do anything but inflame cultural disparity, as racism isn't based on anything logical or rational, but is a completely irrational hatred of anyone different than they are.

Re:Eww yuck! (4, Funny)

bsartist (550317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646717)

Or am I related to Kevin Bacon?
Well I'll be damned - that game really does work. Five steps from me to Kevin Bacon:
  1. My niece is Angel Boris [imdb.com]
  2. ... who appeared in Dragon Storm [imdb.com] with John Rhys-Davies [imdb.com]
  3. ... who appeared in The Great White Hype [imdb.com] with Samuel L. Jackson [imdb.com]
  4. ... who appeared in Sphere [imdb.com] with Dustin Hoffman [imdb.com]
  5. ... who appeared in Sleepers [imdb.com] with Kevin Bacon [imdb.com] .

Re:Eww yuck! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646768)

My niece is Angel Boris


Woah, woah! Stop the presses, forget about Kevin Bacon for a moment. Your niece is Angel Boris?! She was the hottest redhead in playboy, like ever! Did you tap some of that ass when you had the chance?

Family Tree Grafting (5, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646598)

You might be able to trace your geneology, but the process assumes that all your ancestors were entirely forthcoming when it came to their nuptial reltaions. Makes you wonder why children take the male's family name?

Re:Family Tree Grafting (4, Insightful)

Peyna (14792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646636)

Makes you wonder why children take the male's family name

A: You live in a patrilineal society.

Not everyone has live or currently does live in such a society. Arguably, matrilinealization is the more intuitive method, becase you can be pretty certain who is the mother of the child.

Re:Family Tree Grafting (5, Interesting)

netsharc (195805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646649)

If you go x generations back, there are 2^x "ancestors" (1 generation before you: 2^1 = 2 parents, etc). If we go back 5000 years then you have, hmm how many generations? Let's say 200 generations. 2^200 = 1.6 x 10^60, but there weren't that many humans back then. So it seems their research have concluded that a lot of people have a common ancestor. Is it in-breeding? Well, sort of. Going the other way, if you have 2 kids, and they have 2, etc, etc, you will have 2^x grand(-grand)*-kids that after e.g. 20 generations, a million people will be there, and it's hard to believe that two people will know that they are related to each other through you.

Fun to think about..

Re:Family Tree Grafting (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646733)

Ye go back far enough, we are all cousins. Does't surprise me at all. People have been known to wander nomadically all over the European-Asian-African land mass for thousands of years. Getting around by boats has also been widely available and common since prehistoric times. I wouldn't expect to go back very far to be cousins with everyone in Europe, Africa, and Asia. And now that white folks have been mixing it up with the natives in the New World for several hundred years, I'm probably cousins with everyone on this side of the world, too.

We are a very mobile species. We also have the tendency to wipe out people who are significantly different than us if we can't enslave them first.

Re:Family Tree Grafting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646672)

Hmm. Maybe you're a bastard. I'm not.

My ancestors were faithful up the tree for X generations, where X is an integer > 5.

Re:Family Tree Grafting (2, Interesting)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646682)

In a couple decades somebody is going to start a great project to just check people's DNA and plug them into a world family tree. The Y and mitochrondial dna would be great, we could probably trace anybody right to their family. Similar things are being done between species where DNA tests are providing actual relationships between animals as such. Someday we will be able to find a DNA sample and even if it's not in the database we will be able to find out exactly who his parents are.

Re:Family Tree Grafting (4, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646777)

In a couple decades somebody is going to start a great project to just check people's DNA and plug them into a world family tree.

You mean like this? [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:Family Tree Grafting (3, Informative)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646793)

In a couple decades somebody is going to start a great project to just check people's DNA and plug them into a world family tree. The Y and mitochrondial dna would be great, we could probably trace anybody right to their family. Similar things are being done between species where DNA tests are providing actual relationships between animals as such.

The entirety of the population of Iceland has been DNA-sampled and indexed according to their lineage. DNA studies are already used to determine how populations moved and intermixed in the past, on a population-wide scale (where a few people from a population are sampled, rather than everyone).

There even a (if somewhat shaky) DNA test to determine racial descent [raceandhistory.com] . I saw it on a TV show once, where they had some school kids find out they had DNA from basically another race. I.e. a black guy turned out to have some asian genes, a white girl with blonde hair turned out to have some black genes etc. Possibly a bullshit test, possibly not.

Re:Family Tree Grafting (1, Flamebait)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646830)

The test is probably real, it's just that there isn't really set "race genes." There are plenty of dark skin genes in whites as well as white skin genes in blacks. It's just the frequency is really low. The genetic differences are a couple cosmetic things and they are only in lower frequency. If any "race" were removed from the gene pool, almost no genes would be removed. Those that were would probably be removed from small family groups before the gene got popular.

In any event, yeah the test is probably mostly bs.

Re:Family Tree Grafting (1, Informative)

value_added (719364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646759)

Makes you wonder why children take the male's family name?

Not really [wikipedia.org] . For those averse to reading, the Netherlands section is probably the funniest.

But while we're on the subject, I do wonder why a woman asserting her independence by refusing to take her husband's name when getting married feels perfectly comfortable carrying her father's name. According to the Wikipedia article, the practice is generally in decline, but for those of us old enough to remember the shrill "I'm no one's property" arguments before the notion became politically correct and commonplace, the irony lingers. Even funnier if you've been through divorce court.

Re:Family Tree Grafting (4, Interesting)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646801)

But while we're on the subject, I do wonder why a woman asserting her independence by refusing to take her husband's name when getting married feels perfectly comfortable carrying her father's name. According to the Wikipedia article, the practice is generally in decline, but for those of us old enough to remember the shrill "I'm no one's property" arguments before the notion became politically correct and commonplace, the irony lingers. Even funnier if you've been through divorce court.

I have always expected that there would be a movement where a man and woman get married and pick a new family name. It just seemed logical to me. Neither party has to take the other's name, and they also get to share a common family name which would symbolise the bond. Hasn't happened yet, but I still figure it might. Especially if gay marriage takes off. Then, how do you decide who's name to take? Flip a coin?

Re:Family Tree Grafting (1, Interesting)

blincoln (592401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646860)

I prefer hyphenated names, myself. It would get unwieldy to write them all out after a few generations, but it would be a cool way to have your entire family tree represented in your name.

Except for isolated populations (2, Interesting)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646601)

Example: the native population of Tasmania, which had been isolated for 10,000 years - although there might not be any "pure" Tasmanian people left.

Other than that, the artocle does make sense.

What native Tasmanian population? (5, Interesting)

tetromino (807969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646645)

What population? The were white settlers hunted the Tasmanians down like animals, then herded the last few survivors to a Christian-themed labor camp on a desert island where they succumbed to starvation and disease. The last pure-blooded Tasmanian died in 1876. Her skeleton was put on display in the Tasmanian Museum (as an example of "primitive human") and was finally cremated, over the museum's vehement objections, in 1976.

Re:What native Tasmanian population? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646738)

Its nice to see that some people are aware of world history. Truganini was the last Tasmanian.

Re:Except for isolated populations (1)

andy753421 (850820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646769)

What about the Americas? It's not isolated any more but was the last 500 years really enough to mix everyone in the world?
It's an interesting idea that I think works to some extent, but claiming that _everyone_ was related that recently may be going a little to far.

Re:Except for isolated populations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646818)

You miss the point. If one european marries into an indian tribe and has kids, eventually that entire indian tribe will have shared ancestry with europeans. They would theoretically be able to trace their grandparents back to a common ancestor with everyone else.

Whether it's marriage or rape, the fact that the geneology passed between the groups is what caused it.

Re:Except for isolated populations (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646872)

Ok...

1) 500BC is actually 2,500 years ago, not 500. We don't live in year 1.
2) ...yea, I don't have anything past that really. If you RTFA, you'd have noticed things like "2,000 to 5,000 years ago" as well...

Er, what? (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646603)

Relatively recent origins? You mean, like, everyone on Earth today was born within the last 125 years? Duh!

Oh, you mean ancestry... Yeah, every dates back to the monkey-that-wasn't-a-monkey having babies. Duh.

More recent than that?

OH! Maybe you mean: Everyone is connected by a common ancestor a LOT more recently than people think is possible!

Maybe you just should have said that.

Re:Er, what? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646644)

Maybe you mean: Everyone is connected by a common ancestor a LOT more recently than people think

Thanks. The summary made no sense whatsoever - it made it sound like people were spontaneously appearing in Greece around 500 BCE.

Re:Er, what? (1, Troll)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646835)

Funny post!

No idea why it has been modded troll though... I have noticed that a lot of posts have been modded troll recently for no reason. What's up with the moderating system? Isn't meta-moderating supposed to remove problematic moderators?

Celebrate Diversity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646609)

As a black man, I'm pround to celebrate our rich African Culture [resist.com]

Diversity is our Strength !

:-)

Re:Celebrate Diversity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646622)

no, it's our weakness.

Re:Celebrate Diversity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646701)

no, it's our weakness.

Hey! Hear the good news? Now you can bang anybody since we're all cousins!

Not me (4, Interesting)

bsartist (550317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646614)

I've never been able to trace back any further than 1650 or so. Not that I've tried all that hard - it's at that point where I have to leave the US and travel to England to find more, and that's way beyond my budget. My ancestor arrived in the US not only broke, but in debt - he had to pay for his passage with several years of indentured servitude. Not much has changed...

Re:Not me (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646752)

Same here, it seems if ye do try to track them in England, ye can't because so many Americans' ancestors were weirdos who didn't register their babies with the Church of England.

Re:Not me (2, Insightful)

m0nstr42 (914269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646848)

Same here, it seems if ye do try to track them in England, ye can't because so many Americans' ancestors were weirdos who didn't register their babies with the Church of England.

But if they left because of debt (referring to the parent), then maybe you can find records relating to the debt that may point to another source which would have genealogically-useful information? The church is pretty good at keeping records, and so are people who are owed significant amounts of money :) Just a thought, I am not a genealogist.

futurama... (2, Funny)

m1ndrape (971736) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646618)

I'm my own grandfather...

Re:futurama... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646641)

Kinda reminds me of this Chuck Norris joke:

Chuck Norris lost his virginity before his dad did.

Re:futurama... (1)

faraway (174370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646730)

Touch my lele Prince Albert. My favourite Desert Redneck!

Re:futurama... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646870)

I'm my own grandfather...

So, if I go back in time and shoot your grandfather before you were born ... what happens, exactly?

aha (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646631)

[url:http://schbley.com/download/LizVicious.torren t]

So, if I invented a time machine... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646638)

...I could go back in time and have sex with my relative? Cool. Incest is so nasty that it really is the only kind of perversion that still turns me on. Nuns, cripples, heavy S&M or outright torture doesn't really do it anymore. I blame this on the internet.

Re:So, if I invented a time machine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646778)

The thought that I may share common ancestry with you or the numerous fools I have to deal with on a daily basis is somewhat discomforting.

So Python was right? (1, Funny)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646642)

Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!

So, this could be true if we changed mother to 'great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-g reat-great-grandmother' ?

Easy to forget (4, Insightful)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646647)

If you don't explicitly document your ancestry, you'll forget it. There are things my parents don't know which my remaining grandparent has long since forgotten. We have family pictures of people we don't know anymore.

The fact is, we live in the present, and that's what is important. I couldn't care less if your great-great-grandmother was the queen of spain, or if your grandfather's second cousin's dad was a slave. That needn't have any effect on how I interact with you.

Re:Easy to forget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646706)

You are definitely an American. In Asia you can trace your ancestry back centuries. My wife's family still regularly visits every year the family grave that has ancestors buried who died 400 years ago. The person you are today is an echo of your ancestors and his decisions.

Re:Easy to forget (4, Insightful)

rinkjustice (24156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646863)

Knowing your past helps understand who you are, and what you'll likely be up against in the future. If, by chance, you suffer from a particular disease or disorder, it's important to know what side of the family you inherited that genetic malady from, and how seriously it affected those ancestors. It helps you feel less weird and alone, and if your ancestors lived to a ripe old age, then that should give you hope for the future.

It's also "a good thing"TM not to be forgotten forever in time. Your ancestors may have lived intersting lives and have interesting stories to tell. They were likey good people who don't deserve to be sloughed off into distant and lost memory.

Greg Egan wrote a good short story on this in 1995 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646648)

here's the beginning, taken from:
http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook918.htm [fictionwise.com]

With hindsight, I can date the beginning of my involvement in the Ancestor Wars precisely: Saturday, June 2, 2007. That was the night Lena dragged me along to the Children of Eve to be mitotyped. We'd been out to dinner, it was almost midnight, but the sequencing bureau was open 24 hours.

"Don't you want to discover your place in the human family?" she asked, fixing her green eyes on me, smiling but earnest. "Don't you want to find out exactly where you belong on the Great Tree?"

The honest answer would have been: What sane person could possibly care? We'd only known each other for five or six weeks, though; I wasn't yet comfortable enough with our relationship to be so blunt.

"It's very late," I said cautiously. "And you know I have to work tomorrow." I was still fighting my way up through post-doctoral qualifications in physics, supporting myself by tutoring undergraduates and doing all the tedious menial tasks which tenured academics demanded of their slaves. Lena was a communications engineer--and at 25, the same age as I was, she'd had real paid jobs for almost four years.

"You always have to work. Come on, Paul! It'll take fifteen minutes."

Arguing the point would have taken twice as long. So I told myself that it could do no harm, and I followed her north through the gleaming city streets.

It was a mild winter night; the rain had stopped, the air was still. The Children owned a sleek, imposing building in the heart of Sydney, prime real estate, an ostentatious display of the movement's wealth. ONE WORLD, ONE FAMILY proclaimed the luminous sign above the entrance. There were bureaus in over a hundred cities (although Eve took on various "culturally appropriate" names in different places, from Sakti in parts of India, to Ele'ele in Samoa) and I'd heard that the Children were working on street-corner vending-machine sequencers, to recruit members even more widely.

In the foyer, a holographic bust of Mitochondrial Eve herself, mounted on a marble pedestal, gazed proudly over our heads. The artist had rendered our hypothetical ten-thousand-times-great grandmother as a strikingly beautiful woman. A subjective judgment, certainly--but her lean, symmetrical features, her radiant health, her purposeful stare, didn't really strike me as amenable to subtleties of interpretation. The esthetic buttons being pushed were labeled, unmistakably: warrior, queen, goddess. And I had to admit that I felt a certain bizarre, involuntary swelling of pride at the sight of her ... as if her regal bearing and fierce eyes somehow "ennobled" me and all her descendants ... as if the "character" of the entire species, our potential for virtue, somehow depended on having at least one ancestor who could have starred in a Leni Riefenstahl documentary.

Well worth reading, along with the rest of the stories in the collection "Luminous" by Greg Egan. here's another link to some favourable reviews of his stuff: http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan/sf/books/e/eg an.htm [york.ac.uk]

Re:Greg Egan wrote a good short story on this in 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646700)

Wow, we can really do some neato stuff in 2007! I wonder if they'll have flying cars by then too?!

Whaddya'all think 'bout that? Jeez louis, 2007 is so durn far away!

Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (4, Insightful)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646650)

It means when Muslims, Jews or Christians claim to be children of Abraham, they are all bound to be right.
I know Jews [wikipedia.org] and some Muslims [wikipedia.org] claim to be children of Abraham but I never heard of a group of Christians claiming to be children of Abraham.

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (2, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646671)

I never heard of a group of Christians claiming to be children of Abraham.

There ARE hebrew and arabic Chirstians, you know.

In a way, it's too bad that Mohammad wasn't around when Christ was walking the holy land. If the Prophet of Islam had met Christ, they would probably have formed one relgion instead of two.

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646731)


Uh... Mohammad's hordes butchered those who wouldn't convert to Islam. Ol' Jesus would have been Halal.

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (1)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646750)

There ARE hebrew and arabic Chirstians, you know.
but is there is a group of them that make such a claim?

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (2, Insightful)

mortonda (5175) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646825)

In a way, it's too bad that Mohammad wasn't around when Christ was walking the holy land. If the Prophet of Islam had met Christ, they would probably have formed one relgion instead of two.

Excuse me? The two religions are not compatible. The only way I can make your statement work is if the "Prophet of Islam" became a Christian.

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (1)

Jester998 (156179) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646843)

Never fear. Had the Prophet met Christ, there would only be one of those religions around today -- that whose leader wasn't killed in the ensuing war.

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646861)

There ARE hebrew and arabic Chirstians, you know.
To be fair, the grandparent was referring to Jews and Muslims.
There aren't many Jewish Christians (I think those Jews for Jesus folks are eligible), but I haven't heard of people who claim to be Muslim and Christian at the same time. Are there examples of this?

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (4, Funny)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646677)

This is a song we sang at a Catholic church when I was a kid:

Father Abraham had many sons
And many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them
And so are you
So let's all praise the Lord.
Right Arm, Left Arm... (There was some weird "hokey pokey"ish dance aspect to it.)

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646707)

Okay, the Catholic claim to be children of someone they are not...

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646800)

The original Christians were effectively converts from Judaism. So therefore wouldn't they also be children of Abraham? Or am I just putting too much logic into something based on faith?

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646865)

Those Christians that are not Jews and ard not Arabs are the adopted children of Abriham.

Re:Christians claim to be children of Abraham? (2, Informative)

otterpop81 (784896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646875)

"... it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring." - Romans 9:8

Not the acutal decendents of Abraham, but the "Spiritual" children of Abraham.

The start of a long road (3, Insightful)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646655)

Given the worldwide geographical spread of Homo sapiens it's a believable number. As recently as 75,000 years ago we lost around two thirds of the population in the Lake Toba eruption and there have been a fair few fluctuations since then.

The stuff later in the article is interesting. One question it raises is the effect of the increases in travel will have on the genetic mix. Traditionally the vast majority of the population married someone within a small radius of their initial home. As larger numbers of people move further away there could be some interesting effects.

Re:The start of a long road (4, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646796)

500 BC vs. 73,000 BC? That's a very big difference, and I'm inclined to believe the latter number. The article gives ranges; one is a very wide range of 5000 BC to 1 AD. However, the article is too vague to find out what rates of migration were used and why they were used. It would be interesting to see if actual historical migrations were used. There are a lot of other variables that need to be taken into account.

Also, how well does this match up with the "genetic drift model"? The numbers don't agree, so further refinement is necessary.

Based on another article on this, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/04093 0122428.htm [sciencedaily.com] , it appears that the point isn't "All of us have one common ancestor in the collective sense, but that any two of us, regardless of distance, have a common ancestor who lived at about that time." That's just the way I interpret it.

Re:The start of a long road (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646837)

I remember a slashdot article about someone discovering, genetically, that everyone can trace their mothers back to one of 7 women.

It had something to do with at least one large loss of population, possibly a worldwide disaster.

evil - eeeevil! (-1, Flamebait)

flacco (324089) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646673)

every body know that we was all come downe from adam and the whore eve who rode to church on dino-saurs on sundays! this is what jesus teches us.

Beatifully Ambiguous Writing (3, Funny)

SpectreHiro (961765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646678)

Despite the age of our species, every human on earth can trace their ancestry back to someone who may have lived as recently as the Golden Age of Greece (around 500 BC)

Well damn, I can trace my ancestry to someone much more recent than that. To boot, I'm pretty sure we all have ancestors that lived during 500 BC... I dare you to find me someone who lacks a living ancestor during anytime past the origin of life on earth and before their own time. I frickin' dare you.

Ohhhhhh... They mean to say that everyone can trace their ancestry back to a single person who lived during the Golden Age of Greece. That guy must've been a stud.

Re:Beatifully Ambiguous Writing (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646695)

to a single person who lived during the Golden Age of Greece. That guy must've been a stud.

So where do you apply for that sort of thing nowadays? I cannot find the classified for "Need single point for future ancestry". I'd even volunteer.

The ultimate ancestors? (0, Flamebait)

Porchroof (726270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646681)

Can someone tie this in with the ultimate ancestors: Adam and Eve? Using the chronology in the Torah, they lived roughly 5 to 6000 years ago.

Impressive (2, Funny)

DuckWizard (744428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646684)

Despite the age of our species, every human on earth can trace their ancestry back to someone who may have lived as recently as the Golden Age of Greece (around 500 BC)

This fellow must have been quite busy with the ladies.

If what you wrote was true, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646726)

then he couldn't possibly have been a geek.

Great writing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646692)

"That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece"

I guess that this proves that no aliens have visited Earth in the last 2000 years? Or is it that no type of evolution has taken place in that time period that changed some non-homo sapiens to homo sapiens?

Well duh!

Think about it... Am I missing something, or is this statement COMPLETELY BRAINLESS?

Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disease (3, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646697)

That the human population is descended from a tiny group of people has another, more deadly, implication [newscientist.com] , according to "New Scientist". The relative inbreeding increased our susceptibility to genetic disease.

The "New York Times" gives a detailed analysis of genetic disease in Saudia Arabia [middleeastinfo.org] , where more than 50% of marriages are ones between blood relatives.

Curiously, the nature of genetic disease suggests that if you want to ensure the survival of your descendants into the eons upon eons, you should marry outside of your ethnic group. The offspring of an Eskimo-African couple will typically have a stronger set of genes than the offspring of an Eskimo-Eskimo couple, a German-German couple, or a Vietnamese-Vietnamese couple.

Re:Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disea (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646728)

Curiously, the nature of genetic disease suggests that if you want to ensure the survival of your descendants into the eons upon eons, you should marry outside of your ethnic group. The offspring of an Eskimo-African couple will typically have a stronger set of genes than the offspring of an Eskimo-Eskimo couple, a German-German couple, or a Vietnamese-Vietnamese couple.

That is patently false. Humans, before we had modern technology that allowed us to travel great distances in short periods of time, had very little contact outside of our own tribes. To put, humans lived within their own tribes for hundreds of thousands of years.

Mixing does not create a "stronger" result. If anything, it creates a weaker result, depending on how different the two parents are. Why do you think the traits of various ethnic groups were selected? Do you think they are randomly arranged? No, they were selected based on adaptations to the environment of that group of people. Mixing in differnet traits that do not fit well into that environment will result in those traits being removed.

Re:Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646849)

Ah, but environments change too. When Europeans came to the Western Hemisphere, they brought with them various Eurasian diseases, like smallpox. If you didn't survive those diseases in Europe, you died, so it was safe to say that the visitors had some degree of genetic capacity to endure. But the natives had nothing, and died in record numbers. It's possible that the offspring of a native and a European would be more likely to survive, say, a case of smallpox, than a person with two native parents. When the environment changes, the traits required change too.

Re:Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disea (1)

Lars83 (901821) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646729)

'cept the kid will get picked on at school a lot more....

"... picked on at school"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646770)

The answer to harrassment is a fully loaded firearm. Nothing stops a bully better than a '38 special special.

I speak from experience -- and from half-way house. The only problem with a 16-year old wielding a revolver is that the police might arrest the punk. In most cases, a 16-year old will not be tried as an adult and will serve his sentence in a half-way house.

Nonetheless, a revolver works. Just do your best to avoid the pigs.

Re:Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disea (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646785)

Some schools, yes. Mixed blood isn't such an issue in some places, like where I grew up in Hawaii. There might be issues with one of the originating ethnicities (haole, usually), but never from the fact that the kid has mixed blood.

Oh, just to clarify. "Haole" refers to foreigners, but has pretty much come to mean caucasian. The interesting thing is that the Portugese that came here many years ago aren't usually refered as Haole, dispite their european roots. Everybody was the same working in the cane fields, I guess ^_^

Re:Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disea (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646745)

Hybrid Vigor FTW!

Re:Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646763)

Junk Science FTL!

Re:Additional Startling Implication: Genetic Disea (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646799)

Everyone knows miscegenation is wrong. But if you want to marry ooga booga mud people, that's ok. It will leave more blondes for me. And someday I will be able to enjoy the company of my healthy, beautiful, intelligent, successful progeny, while you can visit your whelp at the state penitentiary.

Nature paper and Wikipedia entry (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646702)

Their 2004 Nature paper [nature.com] . (May require a subscription to view the full text, I'm not sure. I might have institutional access.)

There is also a relevant Wikipedia entry on the most recent common ancestor [wikipedia.org] .

weak argument (2, Insightful)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646751)

The article isn't all that convincing. Just because the number of humans was small and the number of ancestor branches is large isn't enough to say that one's ancestors make up all the humans.

Essentially, the article is implying that people in all geographical areas have been in interbreeding contact with peoples of all other geographical areas--within the last 5000 years!

It seems like some kind of feel-good rhetoric (we are all one people). Prove it.

Re:weak argument (3, Informative)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646791)

Walking just 100 yards a day would allow a population to reach the entire earth in about 1000 years or 30 generations. Do it at the right time and there was a permanent ice/land bridge between asia and alaska.

whatever (2, Insightful)

dartmongrel (855947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646771)

The article says all humans alive today can trace their ancestry to one person who lived between 5000 and 2000 BC. I call bullshit on that one. Have a look at the various places on Earth humans had already migrated to during that time frame, and you'll quickly realize that this theory is flawed somewhere. I suspect that this article has other motives.

CowboyNeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646772)

CowboyNeal is my father.

Re:CowboyNeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646828)

Really? Mine too.

Accuracy... (1, Troll)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646780)

With the help of a statistician, a computer scientist and a supercomputer, Olson has calculated just how interconnected the human family tree is. You would have to go back in time only 2,000 to 5,000 years -- and probably on the low side of that range -- to find somebody who could count every person alive today as a descendant.

Oh yea, because a statistician and a computer scientist are so infallible to being with, put them together and the result must be absolutely perfect!

That timeline seems absolutely ridiculous.

So our family tree has no forks? (4, Funny)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646787)

WE'RE ALL REDNECKS!

Nice for Europeans... (2, Interesting)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646788)

But if you're one of the races that may have been dislocated due to the depradations of colonialism or slavery, you're pretty much denied any chance of a family tree dating back to the "Golden Age of Greece".
Yes, it comes off as a troll or flamebait, but that's not the intent. It's just a sad fact of history that there's a lot of people disconnected from their past due to the way the world operated at a particular point. So flame away, but I'd rather hear any ideas that could work around the problem.

Re:Nice for Europeans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646858)

Here's my idea. Since those days back in Greece, that one guy's ancestors have been pretty damn busy too. That guy doesn't have to do a lot of travelling if his great grandkids did. Personally, I think this study is worthless, except maybe to mention the earliest possible common ancestor would have lived around 2500 years ago. I want to know how much money I paid for them to figure that out.

ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646789)

> every human on earth can trace their ancestry back to someone
> who may have lived as recently as the Golden Age of Greece

Yeah? Well I can trace my ancestry back to someone who is alive today!

Brian

From TFA (2, Interesting)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646798)

Every Sunni Muslim in Iraq is descended from at least one Shiite


Sorry, this annoyed me. There are plenty of Sunnis and Shiites in any extended Iraqi family today living happily side by side, not caring about the difference in hand positions during prayer. Sunnis and Shiites are not mortal enemies as is so lazily portrayed in the media. They fought along side each other in the war against Iran just 25 years ago for example. This generally artificial tension is being produced as a convenient cover for the disaster that is Iraq and gives Bushco the ability to walk away from their mess and blame it on civil war. As long as they keep the oil rich areas and the new military bases civil war it would even suit them. Hence this false meme.

Re:From TFA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646826)

So the daily sectarian massacres in Iraq are just a little brotherly disagreement?

It looks to me like your desire to hate the US government has overridden your capacity for rational thought.

Silly PC Feelgoodism (2, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646807)

Some idiot with a PhD in molecular genetics (not population genetics) while debating me once blurted out that the human race is in a "Hardy-Wienberg Equilibrium", which is essentially the impression intended by the referenced article. What HRE means is that there is no "population structure" such as "races" -- which plays very well with the PC Feelgoodism that has been elevated to a state of theocratic dogma by the current zeigeist pervading not just media and academia but governmental circles. Of course when I pointed out that no one, not even the most politically correct academics claims such nonsense, he detonated and started telling me to blow my brains out.

This is par for the course really.

The reality is there is a lot of inbreeding among most populations -- so much so that the bugaboo of "geographic race", which is supposed to be nothing more than folk taxonomy or folksonomy, is actually one of the strongest predictors of genetic makeup medical researchers can use without going to the level of an actual DNA assay. A lot of this brain noise can be traced back to a little academic slight of hand committed by Richard Lewontin when he published a peer-reviewed paper circa 1970 that studied the population structure of certain genes. He then went on to write a book which did not pass peer review but which got a lot of publicity for the claim that "there is more variation within than between races" -- an idiom that is now part of the catechism of liberal arts academia.

Well, unfortunately, this was an appealing fallacy, as shown by one of the grand old men of population genetics, AWF Edwards in Human genetic diversity: Lewontin's fallacy [goodrumj.com] published under the peer-reviewed Bioessays about 30 years after Lewontin's non-peer-reviewed popular science book posing as academic debunking of popular prejudice. Why so long before such a peer-reviewed debunking? Well, this is the clever part -- Lewontin never bothered to publish his little catechism in any peer reviewed paper so there was never any basis for answering it within academia. Edwards actually had to depart somewhat from academic convention in addressing a popular misconception posing as academic wisdom that had influenced the government and culture profoundly for an entire generation!

The article is flat-out WRONG. (2, Insightful)

Sosetta (702368) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646813)

By the article's argument, when you go back 40 generations, you have 2^40 ancestors, or 4 quadrillion ancestors. This is clearly impossible. There simply weren't that many people alive then. So how do you explain the discrepency of numbers? Massive global inbreeding. Go back 10 generations, and you'll find that your family tree branches back on itself many times. The "mathematical" proof that everyone's related is not proof at all. There's nothing to indicate truly common ancestry. In fact, the current level of mobility that many people experience is orders of magnitude greater than what most kings experienced even as little as 500 years ago. It's a silly article.

As recently as the Golden Age of Greece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646851)

They must surely be referring to the Greek king Krassas Bacon.

Thirty Ghosts (2, Interesting)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646857)

Reminds me of something I heard on a documentary about Stanley Kubrick a few days ago. Arthur C. Clarke was talking about his Space Odyssey novel, and he remarked:
"Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth.
"Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived, in this universe, there shines a star."
Considering that the statement is from 1968 we'll probably have to add a couple of ghosts to that number. Anyway, interesting line of thought.

I am Spartacus!!! (1)

DoninIN (115418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646862)

So, it's true?

You can be a universal ancestor too! (4, Informative)

claes (25551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15646866)

Richard Dawkins writes in The Ancestors Tale (page 43, "The Tasmanian's Tale") that roughly 80 percent of all invidiviuals of a current population will be universal ancestors to all living decendants a certain number of generations later. How many generations? That depends on the populations size: roughly the base 2 logarithm of the population size number of generations. This is more true for small, isolated populations, especially on islands (Tasmania is given as example) - you can not take the current population of people on earth today (6 billions) and trust this number.

your origin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15646867)

You have been traced back to the ape [wikipedia.org] . Don't forget to put him into the familiy tree!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?