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'Most Recent Common Ancestor' of All Living Humans Surprisingly Recent..Page 12

"Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth""....

"The Sons of Noah
The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth"...From Genesis Chap 9

"God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God."... 1 Peter 3

"Scene de Deluge", by Géricault. Click and drag photo to resize.

New Haven, Conn. -- In this week's issue of Nature, a Yale mathematician presents models showing that the most recent person who was a direct ancestor of all humans currently alive may have lived just a few thousand years ago.

"While we may not all be 'brothers,' the models suggest we are all hundredth cousins or so," said Joseph T. Chang, professor in the Department of Statistics at Yale University and senior author on the paper.

Chang established the basis of this research in a previous publication with an intentionally simplified model that ignored such complexities as geography and migration. Those precise mathematical results showed that in a world obeying the simplified assumptions, the most recent common ancestor would have lived less than 1,000 years ago.

He also introduced the "identical ancestors point," the most recent time -- less than 2,000 years ago in the simplified model -- when each person was an ancestor to all or ancestor to none of the people alive today.

The current paper presents more realistic mathematical and computer models. It incorporates factors such as socially driven mating, physical barriers of geography and migration, and recorded historical events.

Although such complexities make pure mathematical analysis difficult, it was possible to integrate them into an elaborate computer simulation model.

The computer repeatedly simulated history under varying assumptions, tracking the lives, movements, and reproduction of all people who lived within the last 20,000 years.

These more realistic models estimate that the most recent common ancestor of mankind lived as recently as about 3,000 years ago, and the identical ancestors point was as recent as several thousand years ago.

The paper suggests, "Further work is needed to determine the effect of this common ancestry on patterns of genetic variation in structured populations. But to the extent that ancestry is considered in genealogical rather than genetic terms, our findings suggest a remarkable proposition: No matter the languages we speak or the colour of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who first domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forests of North and South America, and who laboured to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

The results can also work backwards, into the future. According to Chang, "Within two thousand years, it is likely that everyone on earth will be descended from most of us."

Other authors are Douglas L.T. Rhode of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Steve Olson of Bethesda, MD. The National Institutes of Health supported this research.

Citation: Nature 431: (September 30, 2004). For solicited commentary on this paper, see News & Views and supplementary material in the same issue.

Another View

"Notice the model converges on a few thousand years ago, not millions. Such a date is closer to Noah than Lucy. Care should be exercised interpreting what this means, because it is somewhat of a counterintuitive artifact of a mathematical model that makes certain assumptions.

Another counterintuitive result, Hein claims, is that “not many generations ago (about six), members of our pedigree existed that did not contribute to us genetically.” The authors are not claiming that humankind popped into existence a few thousand years ago, but only that everyone alive today had the same ancestors.

Can the same models be applied to guppies, tigers and oak trees? Hein points to additional interesting questions that will require further refinement of models and the combining of pedigree and genetic ancestry information.

One question he asks is, “In the idealized models, how far back would one have to go to find a single couple who are the lone ancestors of everybody?” to which we might add, “and did their names start with A and E?”

We can’t judge how valid is Professor Rhodes’ computer model, but it is interesting that this was not published by Answers in Genesis, but by Nature and by researchers from MIT and Yale – not institutions particularly interested in validating Biblical chronology. It calls into question evolutionary assumptions about human pedigrees stretching back tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years.

It also means that all those “racial” differences between people are superficial and must be of recent origin. Like AIG has emphasized in its Biblical creationist answer to racism, we truly are of “one blood,” just as Paul told the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill (Acts 17).

..Source: CreationEvolution Headlines

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