Geneologists and geneticists: How closely related are all humans?

IANAS (The S is for scientist) but I have read all kinds of things that lead me to conclude that I am far more closely related to ALL other humans (even black and asian) than the average person (and certainly the average racist) would suspect.

There seems to be a number of reasons for this: What I am sayting

  1. The “going forwards” hypothesis":Human beings of all races are so genetically similar (and virtually identical under the skin) that many scientists postulate that the whole human race is descended from a very small group of a few dozen early creatures that survived some near extinction. Most species display much more variation than we do. While a blue-black seven-foot Watusi and a flaxen-blond Swedish girl may strike you as very different, I have read that they are far less different than different breeds of cats, for example.

  2. The “going backwards” hypothesis: Most of us say we are “pure Irish” or “pure French” or “pure white” or “pure Chinese” by tracing through the male line on our family tree. But from a genetic point of view this is very misleading and artificial. I am the child of two people (not just my father), who were the children of four people (my granparents), who were the children of eight people, etc. Now then, counting for or five generations per century (people used to have children a lot younger than now) thirty generations of my ancestors takes me back to about the 12th to 14th centuries. But doubling my ancestors thirty times gives me a number in the BILLIONS!!! There were not billions of people on Earth at any time before the last century or so, right?

And that is just ME! What about you, gentle readers? If each of you is descended from billions of people, and there are about 6 billion people on Earth right now. . . .well do the math!

The only answer to this is that my family tree and yours are not trees at all. The idea that you and I have distinct “trees” of ancestry is absurd. You would have to do a giganic family “bush” for the whole humn race at once.

If you are going to trace your ancestry through both your father and mother, then you would be shown as a dot with your name next to it representing one person at the top of the page. So would every other human being on earth. Now then, two lines would lead down from my dot to two dots identified as with mother and father’s names. And then two lines from each of them to my four grandparents, and so on.

So, in tracing back my ancestry, I would at each ancestor have the choice of following the male or female line to the next ancestor.

As I understand it, two things would occur. I would start to notice after a couple of centuries that the same persons keep coming up as my ancestors in different roles depending on what lines you follow to reach them. And secondly, we would discover that you and I and every other human being on Earth have literally hundreds and even thousands of common ancestors.

THAT is why there were not billions of people on Eath in the 12th century!

I would be pleased if any scientists or genetics experts out there could tell me if any of this is right or am I just spoouting bullshit?

Well, as a Very Wise Commentator pointed out:

According to an article published in The Economist (subscription required), we all seem to have a common female human ancestor:

And furthermore, all men alive today have a common male ancestor:

Another angle to approach this subject from relates to the small town syndrome. Before the current 100-year period (let’s go back to 1900 arbitrarily) it was uncommon for families to uproot and move to a distant locale. Small towns and villages kept pretty much the same basic families, even when the newer generations moved to the “outskirts” or to a nearby community.

In regions as isolated as the Appalachians (as a for instance) there might be only a dozen or so families in a sizeable geographic area. After a few generations the uniqueness of any given family would be hard to maintain. Intermarriage would make most of the people in that community kin to each other, often in several ways.

I spent my early years in a small town. There were hundreds of families, but many people I knew were kin to many others in town and knew that relationship. Some were “third cousins” or more, but the closeness of kinship was a fact of life, and a frequent topic of conversation. My wife comes from a similar situation and knows her kinship to many of the people in her school class and her playmates. Some of them are kin in several ways. A running gag is, “I’m kin to myself three different ways.”

Extend this phenomenon to larger cities, to counties, to states, and even to countries, and the same basic idea applies.

[hijack] Not on topic as such, but similar: how many molecules of air that you’re breathing now were also breathed by William Shakespeare or Genghis Khan or John Wilkes Booth? [/hijack]

Not to hijack my own thread, but dear Zeldar, you bring up some interesting points. As long as we are talking about the use and reuse of xygen molecules in the oxygen-carbon cycle, what about the water cycle?

The water we sweat/piss out eventually becomes part of rivers oceans, etc. and eventually evaporates and falls back down as rain. So even if your Evian or Perrier is absolutely fresh, you have no complete assurance it was not part of someone’s piss in the past.

Think about all the funny possibilities.

A molecule of H2O in the Pope’s Communion wine was once pissed out by Martin Luther in 1520.

A molecule in the Chief Rabbi’s Passover wine once flowed through Hitler’s uncircumcised dick.

George Bush has a molecule from Osama Bin Laden in his dinner water tonight.

Since dinosaurs existed for hundreds of millions of years (meaning billions upon tens of billions of individual animals) and since some of those lads had a bladder the size of a Volkswagen, it is almost CERTAIN, I would think, that we have ingested a water molecule once pissed out by a dinosaur.

It’s hypothesized that humans went thru a few Population Bottlenecks, although I think “a few dozen” would be overatating the narrowness of the most recent one. Humans are indeed quite similar,genetically, although I don’t know why domestic cats should be any standard to compare us to. If we assume that they are all decended from one domestication event, then they’re probably more closely related to each to each other than we are. The site I linked to compares us to our close relatives, chimps, and you can see how much less genetiic diversity we have than they do.

Seriously, then, how likely is it that say, a Nazi or a KKK or Aryan Front member has a black person, a semite (Jewsish or Arab) or an asiatic or Amerindian somewhere in their geneology if you go back through ALL their ancestors, following the male and female lines and all granparents, etc.? Say if you go back 100 generations, which would be about 2,500 years, or about the time of Alexander the Great? How likely is it?

You could be right:

There are 3.612 X 10^20 gallons of water on earth.
The volume of a Volkswagon is 2764 gallons.

That’s 1.306 X 10^17 dino bladders worth of water.

Dinos lasted for about 100 million years. Even if there are a continous population of 1 million dinos on Earth for every one of those years, that would account for 2.764 X 10^17 gallons of dino piss. In fact, every gallon may have made the trip through a dino bladder twice!

Since all humans are descended from an original group of people in East Africa, the probability is 1. Even if you limit it to 2500 years the probability is as near 1 as makes no difference.

Eighty generations ago, the Roman Empire was at its height; it knew no colour bar; and people moved freely through it. Its citizens included North Africans and Middle Easterners as well as Europeans. Everyone of European ancestry alive today will have a vast number of ancestors who lived in the Empire. The conclusion isn’t hard to reach.

Even the SS in Nazi Germany didn’t take racial purity to that extreme. SS officers were only required to prove they had no Jewish ancestry since 1750.

I don’t know how you’d calculate that probability, but unless the KKK member’s parents are recent immigrants from some small village in a remote part of Europe, I’d say the odds wouldbe quite high. By the one-drop-rule, we might consider QE II to be Black-- she has a Portuguese ancestor who was supposedly of mixed European and African heritage.

Fascinating idea. Queen Elizabeth comes on stage with her hair in corn rows and in a gingham dress, and sings:

“Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly
Gonna be Queen till the day I die
Can’t help, wearin’ that crown of mine!”

It might not even be that far back. I am lilly white and I have difficulty finding foundation that matches my pale skin tone. Two of my brothers are very Nordic looking - tall (6 foot +), blond, and blue eyed. However, all of us have Native American/African blood running through our veins. We did genetic testing to find out if my mother’s geneological findings were close to the truth and we were surprised to find the concentration of African/Native American blood. We suspected that we found find Native American blood, because one of my American ancestors was said to have married a Native American woman, but the African blood was a surprise.