Not long ago Charles Darwin ‘celebrated’ his 200th birthday, and one of his gifts has been a journey into his ancestry. Scientists used DNA from Charles Darwin's great-great grandson to map the historical movements of the famous scientist and made some nice discoveries!
Scientists have found out that the father of evolutionary theory, who put forward the idea that all humans descend from one common ancestor, has his roots in Africa. Tests on Mr Darwin's DNA have shows that his forbears were among the first wave of modern humans to leave Africa for the Middle East about 45,000 years ago. From there, they moved into Europe, surviving the Ice Age in Spain, before traveling to England about 12,000 years ago.
The discoveries have been made as part of the Genealogy Project, an initiative by National Geographic and IBM using new technology to examine DNA, allowing scientists to see back to the very earliest days of humans and map how and when they moved around the globe.
The project has enlisted 350,000 members of the public to test, among which Chris Darwin, a tour guide from Australia’s Blue Mountain region.
Because genetic information is passed from father to son via chromosomes, Mr Darwin sharse a large part of his genetic data with his great-great grandfather, making him an interesting test case.
Chris Darwin, who migrated to Australia from England in the 1980s, said his great-great grandfather would have been fascinated by the results of the study.
He is quoted as saying: "He would have been amazed by the amount of detail you can get looking at your genes and the fact that you can tell where your ancestors were at a certain time," and "Back then genetics was not understood at all, so he would have been fascinated to have seen that he got it basically right and that data like this is available."
The goal of the five-year study was to try to explain the migratory history of the human species, which has yielded some great results already.