Family Trees for Clones

A Practical Guide for Genealogists

by Erno Listerhijj, Erno Listerhijj, Erno Listerhijj, Erno Listerhijj, et al.
The Bergen County Amateur Genealogical Association
Pyramus, New Jersey

Here is a simple guide to preparing family trees for clones.

The recent report that a sheep has been cloned in Scotland is happy news for genealogists. Prospects are good that other Scottish sheep will be cloned, and that eventually Scottish persons will be cloned. It is likely that, in the not too distant future, other persons will be cloned, too. As experts on drawing up family trees, we must prepare ourselves to handle this brave new world.

Some may regard cloning as a genealogical nuisance-we have heard it said that a family tree with clones will grow like kudzu. Nevertheless, we can describe and record it simply, using mathematical notation.

A clone is both a child and a sibling of the person from whom he/she was cloned. This is how to identify the clones of a family progenitor/self-genitor. For purposes of illustration, we will call him "Mel." Mel himself is recorded simply as:


and he looks like this:

The first batch of Mel clones—that is, all the clones cloned directly from Mel-each has one subscript. For example, if Mel directly produces five clones of himself, they will be identified, genealogically, as:

Mel1 Mel2 Mel3 Mel4 Mel5

and they will look like this:

Each of those clones' clones has two subscripts. For example, if Mel4 has several children, the second child of the new batch will be


and he will look like this:

If this individual sees the need to clone himself, the members of the next bunch will each have an "extra" subscript. For example, the thirteenth child of that bunch (if the bunch be so bountiful!) will be


and he will look like this:

And so forth (no pun intended). You add an extra subscript every time a clone spawns a new (for lack of a better term) generation.

No matter how many times Mel clones himself, and no matter how many times each of the clones clones himself, each clone can be identified simply-and clearly-as:

Of course some or all of the clones might be given other, less formal-sounding, names. Regardless, every genealogist should insist on recording the family proceedings in the standard fashion as we define it here. To do otherwise would be confusing to all concerned.

Copyright © 1997 The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). All rights reserved.


The article above is from the May-June 1997 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

Newest 3
Newest 3 Comments

(1) Instead of descending subscripts, which would either get smaller with each iteration, until they were too small to read, or remain the same size, and drastically increase the space between lines of text, I recommend the same system as used to track software revisions -- separating the fields by periods. So the 8th daughter of the 7th son of a 7th son of Mel would be Mel.7.7.8. Note that it would not be "Mel7.7.8, as, over time, more original uncloned people will be including digits in their names.

(2) Pyramus, NJ is just across the river from Thisbe, PA.
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