We Are One Big Family

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Modern technology is once again allowing us to better understand ancient history.

Researchers at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute have created an algorithm to connect all the big data, combining ancient and modern genomes for the first time to reveal more about human history and evolution.

“Simply put, what we did was we created the largest human family tree ever,” said lead author Anthony Wilder Wohns from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “We have a single genealogy that traces the ancestry of all of humanity, and shows how we’re all related to each other today.”

The family tree, officially the “human gene genealogy,” confirms that humans mostly evolved in Africa and that a bunch of them moved out about 70,000 years ago. It also looks like humans might have come to North America earlier than we thought.

Right now, the tree consists of 3,609 people from 215 populations, some over 100,000 years old. But this algorithm means more genomes can be added in the future for an even clearer picture of our tree.

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