Scientists claim to have finally unlocked the genetic history of Charles Darwin, by using DNA from the famous English naturalist’s great-great grandson.
The mapping of Darwin’s ancestry has revealed that the father of evolutionary theory -- that all humans are descended from one common ancestor -- actually comes from a long line of adventurers, his forbears being some of first modern humans to leave Africa for Middle East, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.
Because genetic information is passed from father to son via Y chromosome, tests on Darwin’s great-great grandson’s DNA, collected from a swab of his saliva, showed his ancestors 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 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’s great-great grandson, who migrated to Australia from England in 1986, said that his great-great grandfather would’ve been fascinated by 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. Back then genetics was not understood at all, so he would have been fascinated to have seen he got it basically right and that data like this is available,” the great-great grandson said.
Dr Spencer Wells, the Genographic Project director, said he hoped to compile data on at least another 100,000 people before the study was completed. “We all carry a historical document in ourselves that allows us to see back to the very earliest days of our species.
“Through mutations in our genes we can track the migrations of our species all around the world. The goal of the five-year study was to try to explain the migratory history of the human species,” he said.