Currently, the world family tree includes some 77 million people in all seven continents (including Antarctica). That’s 77 million people on a single tree, all connected by blood or marriage or (sometimes) both. Which makes for the longest branches in human history. Paltrow is 17 steps from me. Einstein is 21. President Obama is my aunt’s fifth great-aunt’s husband’s father’s wife’s seventh great-nephew. Practically my older brother!
Interesting idea. Good job all those people are thrilled to be related to us. Or ???
Okay, but get this, about their Global Family Reunion project:
It shouldn’t be surprising, though. Geneticists say that we are all descended from the same male and female. Their nicknames are Mitochondrial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam, and they lived 100,000 to 300,000 years ago. We all have a bit of their DNA. They are our great-great-great- (just keep repeating that about 5000 times) grandparents.
Some geneticists say our most recent common ancestor is far more contemporary than that. MIT computer scientist David Rohde argued in the journal Nature that a shared ancestor for all humans lived about 5000 years ago, thanks in part to increasing intermarriage. Which means that the vast majority of humans are probably, at most, 100th cousins by blood.
So they are trying to connect us all at Global Family Reunion, to benefit Alzheimer research.
Twenty years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to conceive of this megatree. Back then, in order to build your tree, you had to schlep to, say, a Cleveland courthouse or write oft-ignored letters to distant relatives. Then along came the Internet and the Wikipedia model. Several sites—including WikiTree and Geni (which is owned by MyHeritage)—have revolutionized the field with a collaborative, crowdsourced approach to family-tree planting.
So how does it work, exactly? You start small with a family sampling, entering the details you know. If the “A.J. Jacobs” on your tree matches the “A.J. Jacobs” on somebody else’s tree, then you are given the option to combine them. With a click, your tree can double. Repeat this a few times and you will eventually be linked to a worldwide family tree. (Geni’s Big Tree is 77 million, and WikiTree’s is 7 million).
We must have parted company with Francisco Ayala and the no-Adam-or-Eve folks at BioLogos three stations ago. How does all that “Christians, embrace Darwin!”, stuff mesh anyway with Darwin’s own belief (seemingly echoed by Wade) that the branches of the human family are evolving away from each other? Aw, story for when news comes in.
“It’s much easier to collaborate instead of working on your own,” says Gilad Japhet, the CEO of MyHeritage and Geni. “Imagine a million people solving a single multibillion-piece jigsaw puzzle instead of everyone solving their own separate puzzles. In a decade or less, I believe we’ll have a single tree that will include most of the people living on earth.”
Eve? Come to the window for a minute. Look out, it is not as bad as you thought.
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