Scientists create world’s biggest family tree linking 27 million people!

OXFORD, United Kingdom — The world’s biggest family tree linking around 27 million people has been created by scientists. The genetic model combines thousands of modern and prehistoric genomes, providing new insight into key events in human history.

The breakthrough is a major step towards mapping the entirety of human relationships, with a single lineage that traces the ancestry of all people on Earth. The family tree also has widespread implications for medical research, identifying genetic predictors of disease.

“We have basically built a huge family tree, a genealogy for all of humanity that models as exactly as we can the history that generated all the genetic variation we find in humans today. This genealogy allows us to see how every person’s genetic sequence relates to every other, along all the points of the genome,” says principal author Dr. Yan Wong in a university release.

The University of Oxford team combed through eight databases containing 3,609 different genome sequences from 215 populations. They included samples from across the world; some being over 100,000 years-old. The resulting network contained almost 27 million ancestors and 231 million ancestral lineages.

Tracing the origins of humanity

The tree reveals how people across the world are related in unprecedented detail. Individual regions of DNA are inherited from either the mother or father. Each point can be thought of as a tree.

A set — known as a “tree sequence” — links them to common ancestors where mutations first appeared. Computer algorithms explain the patterns, predicting when and where they lived. The study covers the migration out of Africa, interbreeding with Neanderthals, and the arrival of primitive humans in Asia and Oceania.

“Essentially, we are reconstructing the genomes of our ancestors and using them to form a vast network of relationships. We can then estimate when and where these ancestors lived. The power of our approach is that it makes very few assumptions about the underlying data and can also include both modern and ancient DNA samples,” says lead author Dr. Anthony Wilder Wohns.

‘The next generation of DNA sequencing’

The past two decades have generated genomes from hundreds of thousands of people. Many lived tens of thousands of years ago. Variable quality and limitations in analyses made painting an accurate picture impossible, until now. The revolutionary technique described in the journal Science allows for missing and erroneous data and uses fragmented ancient genomes.

“This study is laying the groundwork for the next generation of DNA sequencing. As the quality of genome sequences from modern and ancient DNA samples improves, the trees will become even more accurate and we will eventually be able to generate a single, unified map that explains the descent of all the human genetic variation we see today,” Dr. Wong adds.

The genealogical map could easily accommodate millions more genomes as they become available.

“While humans are the focus of this study, the method is valid for most living things; from orangutans to bacteria. It could be particularly beneficial in medical genetics, in separating out true associations between genetic regions and diseases from spurious connections arising from our shared ancestral history,” Dr. Wohns concludes.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

Comments

  1. Family search has the largest family tree Adding to the FamilySearch Family Tree
    Imagine billions of people adding what they know about their family history in a free online family tree that ultimately constitutes the family tree of humankind. That is one long-term goal of the FamilySearch Family Tree.

    Contributors worldwide added information about millions of deceased relatives to the FamilySearch Family Tree in 2021, making a total of 1.38 billion people now searchable in the world’s largest collaborative—and free—family tree!

    global family tree cropped
    1.38 Billion
    People now in the FamilySearch Family Tree

  2. How about the theory that humans descended from aliens? (I’m referring to aliens that live in space from another planet or galaxy.) I’ll stick with Gods written word, the Holy Bible.

  3. Im a geneologist . How can we see this miracle and use it? Will it be published for all to use?
    Ive got about 150,000 on my tree. Lots of dupes.

  4. i have done my genealogy through through my great grand parents and have about 14,000 members back to about 1500 AD. any mention past 6000 years is bogus for that is about the age of creation as given in the Bible, it is very accurate and a good genealogist and historian can trace history through the Biblical record.

  5. I don’t trust any study that says we’ve been around millions of years. The Bible says that Adam and Eve were created about 4,000 years before Jesus Christ was born. Humans have existed for only about 6 to 6,500 years.

  6. I’m pretty sure that God mapped the worlds lineage long before any scientist did via the Bible. If people were as open minded as they claim and did the scientific research it’s been proven time and again.

  7. Imagine standing in a checkout line with strangers, and then realizing that there’s more than a likelihood that you are related to them.

    1. That would be very nice – I agree, but am not really holding my breath either…people still have a need to justify their evil ways.

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