Europe is one big family

Continent shares common ancestry about 30 generations ago

2:30pm, May 8, 2013

The branches of Europe’s family tree converge remarkably recently in the continent’s history — around the time of the Norman conquest and the Vikings’ transatlantic voyages.

Virtually every person living in Europe today shares a common set of ancestors that lived about 1,000 years ago, Peter Ralph and Graham Coop of the University of California, Davis report May 7 in PLOS Biology.

“What’s really surprising is just how closely related Europeans — and likely all people in the world — are,” Coop says.

In the past, mathematical analyses have concluded that everyone on the globe shares not just a single ancestor, but a complete set of ancestors who lived about 3,000 years ago. In other words, all of the people living then who have modern descendants are ancestors of everyone living today.

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