World’s oldest family tree created using DNA
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Sci and tech
Context Recently, scientists have compiled the world’s oldest family tree from human bones interred at a 5,700-year-old tomb in the Cotswolds, UK.
- The Neolithic tomb, or “cairn”, at Hazleton North in Gloucestershire has two L-shaped chambers, one facing north and the other south.
- The tomb dates to an important period just after farming was introduced to Britain by people.
- Analysis of DNA from the tomb’s occupants revealed the people buried there were from five continuous generations of one extended family.
- Most of those found in the tomb were descended from four women who all had children with the same man.
- The first-generation women probably held a socially significant place in the memories of this community.
- While the tomb reveals evidence of polygyny – men having children with multiple women – it also shows that polyandry was also widespread (women having children with multiple men).
- Significance: The work will help researchers understand family dynamics among these Stone Age people and learn more about their culture.