World’s oldest family tree created using DNA

  • IASbaba
  • December 28, 2021
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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.

Key takeaways 

  • 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.

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