"Descent From Antiquity" - Genetic Trivia, or a Profound Truth?

A seventh-grader in California has collaborated with her grandfather to produce a genealogical chart demonstrating that Barack Obama is related to all previous United States presidents (except for Martin Van Buren).  This happens because Obama and the other presidents have family trees that can be traced back to John "Lackland" Plantagenet, King of England at the beginning of the 13th century.

Van Buren (who incidentally was the first U.S. president to be born in the United States) is excluded from the group because his ancestors were Dutch rather than English.

This young lady's accomplishment is remarkable in terms of the scholarship and genealogical research involved, but whether the result is important depends on one's view of the "descent from antiquity" concept, which has been used to demonstrate that immense groups of persons living today are descended from Genghis Khan, Charlemagne, Marie Antoinette, and other historical figures.  A diagram at Wolfram Alpha demonstrates the genetic distance between tenth cousins; from that viewpoint such "relationships" are genetically trivial.  A Neatorama post last year discussed the relationship of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Brangelina.  The most scholarly compilation in this regard is probably Mark Humphrys' "Royal Descents of Famous People."

The other point of view, of course, is that our relationship with all other humanity is not trivial, but rather a principle that should guide everything from personal ethics to foreign policy.  An article in The Atlantic discussed this concept of "everyone" being related to "everyone else" and noted that it carried another implication:
The same process works going forward in time; in essence every one of us who has children and whose line does not go extinct is suspended at the center of an immense genetic hourglass. Just as we are descended from most of the people alive on the planet a few thousand years ago, several thousand years hence each of us will be an ancestor of the entire human race—or of no one at all.

Story via Reddit.  Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

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I have never understood the pride people take in finding out an ancestor was famous or was a passenger on the Mayflower. We can't take the blame or get the credit for the actions of those who preceded us.

Zeytoun, 10% sounds way too high. It implies that most women are cheating on their husbands since not every liason leads to pregnancy.
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