Across Europe all humans related

The first survey of European genealogical ancestry over the past 3,000 years has found that all people of European descent are related – even if they now live on opposite sides of the continent.

Further research is expected to show that every human is related no matter how distantly to every other member of the human species and that classifying people by race is biologically wrong.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, conducted the survey and found that a pair of modern Europeans living in neighbouring populations shared up to 12 common ancestors from the past 1,500 years, and upwards of 100 ancestors from the previous 1,000 years.

In a paper published in PLOS Biology, the researchers say these numbers drop off exponentially with geographic distance. But because these genetic ancestors are a tiny fraction of common genealogical ancestors, individuals from opposite ends of Europe are still expected to share millions of common genealogical ancestors over the past 1,000 years.

Dr Graham Coop, one of the paper’s co-authors, says the study focused on Europe and, although it was likely that all humans worldwide shared all common ancestors a few thousand years ago, the scientists could currently only demonstrate this in Europe.

Human evolutionists say the findings reinforce the view that all humans are exceptionally closely related, no matter where they live or how they perceive their ancestry.

“Bigotry based on ‘race’ should be seen for what it is, completely divorced from biological reality,” said one scientist. “The differences we think we see are remarkably superficial and largely biologically meaningless.”

The researchers used ‘genomic data’ for 2,257 Europeans from a collection of genetic information called the Population Reference Sample. They detected that 1.9 million shared long genomic segments, and used the lengths of these to infer the distribution of shared ancestors across time and geography.

“Despite this degree of commonality, there are also striking regional differences. South-eastern Europeans, for example, share large numbers of common ancestors that date roughly to the era of the Slavic and Hunnic expansions around 1,500 years ago, while most common ancestors that Italians share with other populations lived longer than 2,500 years ago.”

Scientific observers of the results note how anthropologists have argued for the past 50 years that humans cannot be divided into ‘races’. Because they are all so closely related there is not enough difference between gene pools of people living in different continents to produce reliable biological distinctions between Africans, Europeans or Asians.

The few externally visible differences, such as skin colour or nose shape, are not enough to justify the divisions that do exist between people.