We Are All RelatedSome geneticists believe that everybody on Earth is at most 50th cousin to everybody else.(1) A single individual alive today would, over 30 generations going back to the High Middle Ages, have roughly a billion ancestors, more than the total world population at the time. (2)
That would of course be impossible, so there is no doubt, zero, nada, no chance at all that there is not some inbreeding in your past. Yep, some of your ancestors are hanging from more than one limb on the ol' family tree.
In fact if you take it a little further you are related in some way to everyone that is living, everyone who has ever lived and everyone who ever will live. Isn't that amazing?
Speaking of amazing. Did you know that your mother is the daughter of a woman who had at least one female child in every single generation as far back as you can go? And the same holds true for your father, sons in every generation.
One day back in the 1300s a farmer took the time to stop his wagon and watch the sunset. That was a little out of his normal routine. This small action caused the delay of the conception of his firstborn child, thus causing a different child to be born which in turn will cause a different outcome in the births of millions of children.
Every single little thing had to happen exactly right for you to be born. It had to be raining one night in 400 B.C., a child had to stay asleep just a minute longer, a house had to burn down on just the right night in 1276, the King had to declare a holiday at just the right time, etc etc and on and on. If any little thing changed, any minute detail, you wouldn't be here. What are the odds? Several billion trillion to one? Or much much more? You are an absolute miracle.
When you are driving down the road in heavy traffic just look at all your kinfolks out there. All of them have their own lives, their own troubles and problems, their own joys, their own sorrows. And doing the best they can to get by in life.
Each and every one of them is a miracle too.
1. The Straight Dope: 2, 4, 8, 16, ... how can you always have MORE ancestors as you go back in time?
2. Dawkins, Richard (1995). River Out of Eden. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-06990-8.
Picture credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=19223
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