Health Care

Biggest 13 million person family tree tells much about human history

Biggest 13 million person family tree tells much about human history”

Your next family reunion could be a lot more crowded: After analyzing millions of interconnected online genealogy profiles, scientists have collected the largest, scientifically vetted family tree to date, which at 13 million people is slightly larger than the population of Belgium or Cuba.

The largest ever family tree, incorporating data from around 13 million people, has been created by researchers.

"Through the hard work of many genealogists curious about their family history, we crowdsourced an enormous family tree - and boom - came up with something unique", the study's senior author, Yaniv Erlich, a computer scientist at Columbia University, said in a statement.

For their study, the research team analysed records from 86 million Geni profiles.

In this 6,000-person family tree cleaned and organized using graph theory, individuals spanning seven generations are represented in green, with their marital links in red. The researchers report that if the data went back another 65 generations, we might actually have been able to see a common ancestor for this entire data set.

Researchers also obtained every death certificate issued in the state of Vermont, which has an open policy about death certificates, from 1985 to 2000, for a total of almost 80,000 records.

According to the report, published in Science, around 85 percent of the people included in the world's largest family tree originated in either Europe or North America, which gave researchers keen insight into the connected history of the two regions.

The author of the study wrote,"Family trees have vast applications in multiple fields from genetics to anthropology and economics". The study is showing different aspects and changes that are hidden from everyone till now.

They also found that while women in Europe and North America have tended to migrate more than men over the past few centuries, when men have moved they have travelled significantly farther than women.

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Moreover, between 1650 and 1850, it was common for fourth cousins to marry.

Prior to 1750, they found most Americans found their spouses within six miles of their birthplace, but by 1950 this distance had increased to around 60 miles. This debunks the idea that when people travel greater distances, they say "I do" to people who are less related to them.

Scientists found recent reduction in genetic relatedness in Western societies had more to do with shifting cultural factors than it did with the advent of transportation. It was mostly women who changed their location of residence for marriage, but men who were forced to migrate traveled much further.

The New York Genome Center has put together a 13-million-person family tree. This data documented births, deaths, and marriages for hundreds of years and showed common origins for a lot of families that don't have any modern connection.

The researchers took a gander at how genes influence longevity.

To try and untangle the role of nature and nurture, the researchers built a model and trained it on a dataset of 3 million relatives born between 1600 and 1910 who had lived past the age of 30. The team verified that the dataset was representative of the general US population's education level by comparing a subset of Vermonters against the state's detailed death registry.

They found that genes explained about 16 per cent of the longevity variation seen in their data - on the low end of previous estimates which have ranged from about 15 per cent to 30 per cent.

"We hope that this dataset can be useful to scientists researching a range of other topics".

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