More on Common Ancestors

A lot of readers have commented on my recent post about a study that suggests we all share a common ancestor who lived 2,300 years ago. Some people doubted that isolated groups could share such a recent ancestry.

One of the study’s authors, Steve Olson (also the author of the book Mapping Human History) sent me the following email yesterday:

“Ensuring a recent common ancestor doesn’t take long-range migrations (although contact between the Polynesians and South Americans certainly speeds things up).  All it really requires is that a person from one village occasionally mates with a person from an adjoining village; after that the power of exponential growth, and the dynamics of small worlds networks, take over.  As for counterexamples, I’ve been

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