Uncover the great history of mankind

Nowadays, gene sequencing is nothing new. 

For hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can sequence all your DNA, which will reveal your unique genetic makeup and calculate your genetic similarities and differences with other people around the world. 

In the past few decades, human genetic research has made extraordinary progress. Scientists not only have the genome data of hundreds of thousands of people but also obtained a lot of genetic information from prehistoric humans. 

An exciting possibility has emerged that we now can trace the origins of human genetic diversity and get a complete map of how individuals around the world relate to each other. 

In other words, we can find the genetic pedigree associated with all of us. 

This doesn't sound like a simple task. 

But now, a team of researchers has taken a big step forward. 

They have developed a series of ingenious computer algorithms to integrate genetic similarities and differences in various data sets and accurately reconstruct their relationships, thus creating a huge evolutionary system tree. uncovered the great history of mankind written in our genes. 

The paper was recently published in the journal Science. 

Unify modern and ancient genomes. 

In the new study, the team used newly developed algorithms to describe the recent evolution of 215 human populations from different times and locations. 

This pedigree, the lineage of our common ancestor, includes 3601 individual genomes from three independent data sets, as well as eight high-quality ancient genomes. 

These ancient genomes come from three Neanderthals (an extinct human subspecies that lived in Eurasia until about 40,000 years ago), a Denisovan (another human subspecies found in a bone fragment in a Siberian cave), and a family of four from the Avanasevo culture. they lived in southern Siberia 4,500 years ago. 


Visually inferred changes in the lineage of human ancestors in time and space. 

Each line represents an ancestor-descendant relationship is inferred from modern and ancient genomic lineages. 

The width of the line corresponds to the number of relationships observed, and the color of the line is determined according to the estimated age of the ancestors. 

| Image source: Wohns. 

A. W. Et al. 


This unified pedigree, or evolutionary phylogenetic tree, explains the genetic relationship between these thousands of genomes. 

This is also the largest phylogenetic tree ever reconstructed. 

Strictly speaking, of course, it is not "a tree", but a series of interconnected trees along the genome, which can be called "tree sequences" or "ancestral recombination maps", which contain 13 million evolutionary systems trees. 

At the same time, this information also involves 27 million common ancestors. 

For each ancestor, the study estimated their time and geographical location. 

This can reveal the possible migration of people around the world, even dating back to the African origin of mankind hundreds of thousands of years ago. 

The researchers believe that this study provides a basic framework for us to understand the relationship between human beings. 

For example, the information can reveal the link between African and non-African populations and see the so-called "out of Africa" event, that is, the impact of human migration from Africa to Eurasia. 

Dynamic visualization of human migration. 

| | Video source: Oxford |. 

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Similarly, by comparing the Denisovans with various population groups, they have mated with the ancestors of Papuans and Australian aborigines, which is consistent with the findings of other studies, bringing more information to the study of ancient human history. 

Although there are still some populations that lack very accurate information, such as the population of the Americas, some clear findings can still be found. 

These results suggest that humans arrived in America and Oceania earlier than currently, known archaeological evidence suggests. 

The researchers specifically mentioned that their method has many benefits, one of which is that it makes few assumptions. 

For example, the study does not assume that "going out of Africa" happens only once or several times, nor does it have to happen in a certain way at a certain time. 

The ultimate goal of the study is to let the data speak for themselves through genealogy. 

The ancestors of everyone. 

Your genome describes how you and others inherited different parts of the genome from different ancestors. 

If we can understand this pedigree and decipher where and when those ancestors lived, we can uncover all the history written in our genes, how our ancestors migrated around the world, and the evolutionary process that created us all. 

It can also be used as background material for the analysis of the human genome, such as tracking the origin and spread of a disease-causing gene mutation. 

Shortly, as long as you have your genetic information, you should be able to find your position in the human "unified family tree" in a few minutes. 

Of course, you won't be in just one place, because different parts of your DNA may come from very different ancestors, and they may live in every corner of the world. 

As more genomes are included in the family tree, they can be made more comprehensive. 

This is not only good for mankind. 

There is also a lot of biological research that needs to understand how individual populations change in time and space, which can be done by creating similar genetic lineages. 

Genealogy is the genetic basis of every living species. 

Now that we have the tools to pierce the veil, we can catch a glimpse of the secret inside.