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May 7, 2013: All Europeans Related

A study reports that all Europeans are related to a small group of ancestors dating back only 1,000 years. The work published this day in 2013 shows that any two Europeans are likely to have many common ancestors who lived around 1000 years ago. We don’t have to go back much further to find that everyone in the world is related to each other.

Peter Ralph

Peter Ralph

The study was authored by Peter Ralph, a Southern California geneticist and Graham Coop, professor at the University of California Davis. Researchers have long known that if you go back far enough, everyone with a European connection ends up being related to Charlemagne. Now Coop and Ralph have come up with the evidence.



“Anyone alive 1,000 years ago who left any descendants will be an ancestor of every European,” the researchers show. “While the world population is larger than the European population, the rate of growth of number of ancestors quickly dwarfs this difference, and so every human is likely related genealogically to every other human over only a slightly longer time period.” Really changes the meaning of, “Hey Bro”

Graham Coop

Graham Coop

Coop stressed that common genealogical ancestors are distinct from common genetic ancestors. “If you go more than eight generations back, you’ve got so many ancestors back there, it’s unlikely that all of them have contributed genetic material to you,” he explained.

“What’s remarkable about this is how closely everyone is related to each other. On a genealogical level, everyone in Europe traces back to nearly the same set of ancestors only a thousand years ago,” Coop said.

The cold, hard genetic evidence points to a warm and fuzzy fact. “It underlines the commonality of all of our histories,” Coop said. “You don’t have to go back many generations to find that we’re all related to each other.”

“It’s likely that everyone in the world is related over just the past few thousand years,” Coop added.


The study goes hand in hand with another recently released study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America which found that languages spoken by billions of people across both Europe and Asia may have all descended from the same ancient tongue used in southern Europe at the end of the last ice age.

Peter Ralph / Graham Coop Study



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