Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Most Recent Common Ancestor' Of All Living Humans Surprisingly Recent

Date:
September 30, 2004
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
In this week's issue of Nature, a Yale mathematician presents models showing that the most recent person who was a direct ancestor of all humans currently alive may have lived just a few thousand years ago.

New Haven, Conn. -- In this week's issue of Nature, a Yale mathematician presents models showing that the most recent person who was a direct ancestor of all humans currently alive may have lived just a few thousand years ago.

"While we may not all be 'brothers,' the models suggest we are all hundredth cousins or so," said Joseph T. Chang, professor in the Department of Statistics at Yale University and senior author on the paper.

Chang established the basis of this research in a previous publication with an intentionally simplified model that ignored such complexities as geography and migration. Those precise mathematical results showed that in a world obeying the simplified assumptions, the most recent common ancestor would have lived less than 1,000 years ago. He also introduced the "identical ancestors point," the most recent time -- less than 2,000 years ago in the simplified model -- when each person was an ancestor to all or ancestor to none of the people alive today.

The current paper presents more realistic mathematical and computer models. It incorporates factors such as socially driven mating, physical barriers of geography and migration, and recorded historical events. Although such complexities make pure mathematical analysis difficult, it was possible to integrate them into an elaborate computer simulation model. The computer repeatedly simulated history under varying assumptions, tracking the lives, movements, and reproduction of all people who lived within the last 20,000 years.

These more realistic models estimate that the most recent common ancestor of mankind lived as recently as about 3,000 years ago, and the identical ancestors point was as recent as several thousand years ago. The paper suggests, "No matter the languages we speak or the color of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who first domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forests of North and South America, and who labored to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu."

The results can also work backwards, into the future. According to Chang, "Within two thousand years, it is likely that everyone on earth will be descended from most of us."

###

Other authors are Douglas L.T. Rhode of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Steve Olson of Bethesda, MD. The National Institutes of Health supported this research.

Citation: Nature 431: (September 30, 2004). For solicited commentary on this paper, see News & Views and supplementary material in the same issue.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "'Most Recent Common Ancestor' Of All Living Humans Surprisingly Recent." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040930122428.htm>.
Yale University. (2004, September 30). 'Most Recent Common Ancestor' Of All Living Humans Surprisingly Recent. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040930122428.htm
Yale University. "'Most Recent Common Ancestor' Of All Living Humans Surprisingly Recent." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040930122428.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins