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Europeans All Related by Genetic Footprint Dating Back Only 1,000 Years Ago

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May 07, 2013 09:25 PM EDT
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People sit on the grass and sunbathe near the Trocadero fountains across from the Eiffel Tower on a hot summer day in Paris. (Photo : Paris)

Researchers claim people from all corners of the European continent share a common genetic footprint that dates back just a mere thousand years ago.

Even Europeans geographically separated by thousands of miles, such as a Portuguese and a Turk are still related, according to a new study of genome data published today in the journal PLOS Biology.

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"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," University of California researcher Graham Coop said.

"This was predicted in theory over a decade ago, and we now have concrete evidence from DNA data," Coop said, adding that such close kinship likely exists in other parts of the world as well.

The researchers looked at DNA of more than 2,000 Europeans for common segments that have been passed down the generations. The findings indicate that there was a steady flow of genetic material between European countries even after the great population movements of the first millennium A.D. such as the Saxon and Viking invasions of Britain, and the westward drive of the Huns and Slavic peoples.

"While it is likely true that all humans world-wide likely share all common ancestors a few thousand years ago, we can only demonstrate this in Europe so far," he noted. The same technique hasn't been applied to other continents, but he believes similar results will be discovered.

"It'ss likely that everyone in the world is related over just the past few thousand years," Coop added.

The researchers also found that people in Eastern Europe were slightly more related to each other than were those in Western Europe.

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.

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