Darwin's genetic history suggests he came from a long line of adventurers

Published: Friday, February 5, 2010, 13:23 [IST]
 

London, Feb 5 (ANI): The genetic history of Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory, has been analyzed to reveal that the scientist comes from a long line of adventurers, his forbears being some of the first modern humans to leave Africa for the Middle East.

Darwin's DNA was analyzed as part of the Genealogy Project, a five-year initiative backed by National Geographic and IBM, which uses powerful new technology to examine DNA, allowing scientists to see back to the very earliest days of the human species and map how and when they moved around the globe.

According to a report in the Telegraph, one of the 350,000 members of the public tested so far was Chris Darwin of Sydney, a tour guide and adventurer, who is the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin.

Because genetic information is passed from father to son via the Y chromosome, Chris Darwin would share a large part of his genetic data with his great-great grandfather, who wrote The Origin of The Species.

Tests on Chris Darwin's DNA, collected from a swab of his saliva, showed that his ancestors, and those of Darwin himself, were among the first wave of modern humans to leave Africa for the Middle East about 45,000 years ago.

From there, they travelled into Europe, surviving the Ice Age by migrating south to Spain, before moving north to England about 12,000 years ago.

The tests revealed that Charles Darwin belonged to the Haplogroup R1b, direct descendants of the Cro-Magnon people who dominated the human expansion into Europe and heralded the demise of the Neanderthals.

Darwin, who migrated to Australia from England in 1986, said that his great-great grandfather would have been fascinated by the results of the study.

"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," he said.

"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," he added. (ANI)


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