Many people claim to have distant family trees, going back to Charlemagne, Charles Martel, or even Adam and Eve. But while many of these may have some truth - and, statistically, most of us probably are related to Charlemagne in one way or another - many long trees ultimately rely on leaps of faith. Many old records are far more vague than birth certificates, and many of our high-climbing ancestors even falsified such links to try and prove their worth.
So how long is the longest tree that has a chance of standing up to scrutiny? It's hard to say for sure, and there doesn't seem to be agreement on a single case, but here are three of suggestions we've come up with. If you know of any other examples, drop us a message in the comments down below.
Confucius is often claimed to have the longest-running documented family tree. The record of his lineage was in fact updated for the fifth time just two years ago, in a staggering 43,000-page set of books, detailing 83 generations.
One can even take a test to establish genetic linkage to Confucius in China, although how the DNA sample to confirm this was obtained has not been explained.
Over the course of three decades, and without the use of computers and the Internet, he pieced together one of the largest family trees the world has ever seen. His tree now numbers around 10,000, and goes back to William the Conqueror, Alred the Great, and the Cerdick family in AD 500. And all of this is through rigorous research and with supporting documents - Roy followed the paper trail the whole way.
3. Manfred Huchthausen
The final tree takes a slightly different format - but does go a long way back.
It came about not through chasing up documents and finding links to ancestors, but through genetic testing.
Some well-preserved skeletons, with calcium deposits forming a protective layer around them, were found in the Lichenstein Cave in Germany's Lower Saxony, and were suitable for genetic testing. Scientists asked for local volunteers, to see if they could identify anyone with a strong match to their rare genetic signature. And so they did, in the form of Manfred Huchthausen, and another local resident, Uwe Lange.
They now claim to have the longest proven family tree in the world, and with some good reason. But while they have identified their ancestor, the lack of any ancestors inbetween them might to some make the word 'tree' seem unapplicable.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any other examples you'd like to share?