A new, enormous family tree for all of humanity attempts to summarize how all humans alive today relate both to one another and to our ancient ancestors.
To build this family tree, or genealogy, researchers sifted through thousands of genome sequences collected from both modern and ancient humans, as well as ancient human relatives, according to a new study published Thursday (Feb. 24) in the journal Science.
These genomes came from 215 populations scattered across the world. Using a computer algorithm, the team revealed distinct patterns of genetic variation within these sequences, highlighting where they matched and where they differed.
Based on these patterns, the researchers drew theoretical lines of descent between the genomes and got an idea as to which gene variants, or alleles, the common ancestors of these people likely carried.
In addition to mapping out these genealogical relationships, the team approximated where in the world the common ancestors of the sequenced individuals lived. They estimated these locations based on the ages of the sampled genomes and the location where each genome was sampled.
A modified telescope in Arizona has produced an interim map, which is already the largest three-dimensional map of the universe ever — and the instrument is only about a tenth of the way through its five-year mission.
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), a collaboration between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and scientists around the world, was installed between 2015 and 2019 on the Mayall telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Sonoran Desert, about 50 miles (88 kilometers) west of Tucson, and has been conducting a survey for less than a year.
Its purpose is to create an even larger 3D map of the universe, to yield a better understanding of the physics of dark energy, the mysterious force that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.