An ancestor is a parent or (recursively) the parent of an antecedent (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, and so forth). Ancestor is "any person from whom one is descended. In law the person from whom an estate has been inherited."[1]

Two individuals have a genetic relationship if one is the ancestor of the other, or if they share a common ancestor. In evolutionary theory, species which share an evolutionary ancestor are said to be of common descent. However, this concept of ancestry does not apply to some bacteria and other organisms capable of horizontal gene transfer. Some research suggests that the average person has twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors. This might have been due to the past prevalence of polygynous relations and female hypergamy.[2]

Assuming that all of an individual's ancestors are otherwise unrelated to each other, that individual has 2n ancestors in the nth generation before him and a total of 2g+1 − 2 ancestors in the g generations before him. In practice, however, it is clear that most ancestors of humans (and any other species) are multiply related (see pedigree collapse). Consider n = 40: the human species is mors, both living and dead; in contrast, some more youth-oriented cultural contexts display less veneration of elders. In other cultural contexts, some people seek providence from their deceased ancestors; this practice is sometimes known as ancestor worship or, more accurately, ancestor veneration.

See also


  1. ^ Websters New World Dictionary. Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company.
  2. ^ Tierney, John (5 September 2007). "The Missing Men in Your Family Tree". Archived from the original on 5 May 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2018.

External links


Boreoeutheria (synonymous with Boreotheria) (from Greek Βορέας, Boreas "the greek god of north wind", εὐ-, eu- "good, right" and θηρίον, thēríon "beast" hence "northern true beasts") is a clade (magnorder) of placental mammals which is composed of the sister taxa Laurasiatheria (most hoofed mammals, most pawed carnivores, and several other groups) and Euarchontoglires (Supraprimates). It is now well supported by DNA sequence analyses, as well as retrotransposon presence or absence data. Placental mammals outside of this clade are the clades Xenarthra (sloths and their close relatives) and Afrotheria (elephants and their close relatives).

The earliest known fossils belonging to this group date to about 65 million years ago, shortly after the K-Pg extinction event, though molecular data suggest they may have originated earlier, during the Cretaceous period. With a few exceptions male animals in the clade have a scrotum. The sub-clade Scrotifera was named after this feature.

Chimpanzee–human last common ancestor

The chimpanzee–human last common ancestor, or CHLCA, is the last common ancestor shared by the extant Homo (human) and Pan (chimpanzee and bonobo) genera of Hominini. Due to complex hybrid speciation, it is not possible to give a precise estimate on the age of this ancestral population. While "original divergence" between populations may have occurred as early as 13 million years ago (Miocene), hybridization may have been ongoing until as recently as 4 million years ago (Pliocene).


A clade (from Ancient Greek: κλάδος, klados, "branch"), also known as monophyletic group, is a group of organisms that consists of a common ancestor and all its lineal descendants, and represents a single "branch" on the "tree of life". Rather than English, the equivalent Latin term cladus (plural cladi) is often used in taxonomical literature.

The common ancestor may be an individual, a population, a species (extinct or extant), and so on right up to a kingdom and further. Clades are nested, one in another, as each branch in turn splits into smaller branches. These splits reflect evolutionary history as populations diverged and evolved independently. Clades are termed monophyletic (Greek: "one clan") groups.

Over the last few decades, the cladistic approach has revolutionized biological classification and revealed surprising evolutionary relationships among organisms. Increasingly, taxonomists try to avoid naming taxa that are not clades; that is, taxa that are not monophyletic. Some of the relationships between organisms that the molecular biology arm of cladistics has revealed are that fungi are closer relatives to animals than they are to plants, archaea are now considered different from bacteria, and multicellular organisms may have evolved from archaea.


A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. Clans, in indigenous societies, tend to be exogamous, meaning that their members cannot marry one another. Clans preceded more centralized forms of community organization and government, and exist in every country. Members may identify with a coat of arms or other symbol to show they are an independent clan. The kinship-based bonds may also have a symbolic ancestor, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a symbol of the clan's unity. When this "ancestor" is non-human, it is referred to as a totem, which is frequently an animal.

The word clan is derived from the Gaelic clann meaning "children" or "progeny"; it is not from the word for "family" in either Irish or Scottish Gaelic. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was introduced into English in around 1425, as a label for the nature of the society of the Scottish Highlands. The Irish term for clan is fine [ˈfʲɪnʲə]; líon tí means "family" in the sense of "household"; and muintir means "family" in the sense of "kinsfolk".

Common descent

Common descent describes how, in evolutionary biology, a group of organisms share a most recent common ancestor. There is massive evidence of common descent of all life on Earth from the last universal common ancestor (LUCA). In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355 genes from the LUCA by comparing the genomes of the three domains of life, archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes.Common ancestry between organisms of different species arises during speciation, in which new species are established from a single ancestral population. Organisms which share a more-recent common ancestor are more closely related. The most recent common ancestor of all currently living organisms is the last universal ancestor, which lived about 3.9 billion years ago. The two earliest evidences for life on Earth are graphite found to be biogenic in 3.7 billion-year-old metasedimentary rocks discovered in western Greenland and microbial mat fossils found in 3.48 billion-year-old sandstone discovered in Western Australia. All currently living organisms on Earth share a common genetic heritage, though the suggestion of substantial horizontal gene transfer during early evolution has led to questions about the monophyly (single ancestry) of life. 6,331 groups of genes common to all living animals have been identified; these may have arisen from a single common ancestor that lived 650 million years ago in the Precambrian.Universal common descent through an evolutionary process was first proposed by the British naturalist Charles Darwin in the concluding sentence of his 1859 book On the Origin of Species:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.


Commonly, "cousin" refers to a "first cousin", people whose most recent common ancestor is a grandparent. A first cousin used to be known as a cousin-german, though this term is rarely used today.More generally, cousin is a type of familial relationship in which people with a known common ancestor are both two or more generations away from their most recent common ancestor. This distinguishes a cousin from an ancestor, descendant, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew.Systems of "degrees" and "removals" are used in the English-speaking world to describe the exact relationship between two cousins (in the broad sense) and the ancestor they have in common. Various governmental entities have established systems for legal use that can precisely specify kinship with common ancestors any number of generations in the past. Common usage often eliminates the degrees and removals, and refers to people with common ancestry as simply "distant cousins" or "relatives".

Enoch (ancestor of Noah)

Enoch ( (listen)) is of the Antediluvian period in the Hebrew Bible. Enoch was son of Jared and fathered Methuselah.

This Enoch is not to be confused with Cain's son Enoch (Genesis 4:17).

The text of the Book of Genesis says Enoch lived 365 years before he was taken by God. The text reads that Enoch "walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him" (Gen 5:21–24), which some Christians interpret as Enoch's entering Heaven alive.

Enoch is the subject of many Jewish and Christian traditions. He was considered the author of the Book of Enoch and also called Enoch the scribe of judgment.

The New Testament has three references to Enoch from the lineage of Seth (Luke 3:37, Hebrews 11:5, Jude 1:14–15).

Family tree of Muhammad

This family tree is about the relatives of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad known as a member of the family of Hashim and the Quraysh tribe which is ‘Adnani.


Homininae, also called "African hominids" or "African apes", is a subfamily of Hominidae. It includes two tribes, with their extant as well as extinct species: 1) the Hominini tribe (with the genus Homo including modern humans and numerous extinct species; the subtribe Australopithecina, comprising at least two extinct genera; and the subtribe Panina, represented only by the genus Pan, which includes common chimpanzees and bonobos)―and 2) the Gorillini tribe (gorillas). Alternatively, the genus Pan is sometimes considered to belong to its own third tribe, Panini. Homininae comprises all hominids that arose after orangutans (subfamily Ponginae) split from the line of great apes. The Homininae cladogram has three main branches, which lead to gorillas (through the tribe Gorillini), and to humans and chimpanzees via the tribe Hominini and subtribes Hominina and Panina (see the evolutionary tree below). There are two living species of Panina (chimpanzees and bonobos) and two living species of gorillas, but only one extant human species. Traces of hypothetical Homo species, including Homo floresiensis and Homo denisova, have been found with dates as recent as 40,000 years ago. Organisms in this subfamily are described as hominine or hominines (not to be confused with the terms hominins or hominini).

Last universal common ancestor

The last universal common ancestor (LUCA), also called the last universal ancestor (LUA), concestor, or (incorrectly) progenote, is the most recent population of organisms from which all organisms now living on Earth have a common descent. LUCA is the most recent common ancestor of all current life on Earth. LUCA is not thought to be the first living organism on Earth, but only one of many early organisms, whereas the others became extinct.

While there is no specific fossil evidence of LUCA, it can be studied by comparing the genomes of its descendants, all organisms whose genomes have yet been sequenced. By this means, a 2016 study identified a set of 355 genes inferred to have been present in LUCA. This would imply it was already a complex life form with many co-adapted features, including transcription and translation mechanisms to convert information between DNA, RNA, and proteins. However, some of those genes could have developed later and spread universally by horizontal gene transfer between archaea and bacteria.Studies from 2000 to 2018 have suggested an increasingly ancient time for the inception of LUCA. During 2000 estimations suggested LUCA existed 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago in the Paleoarchean era, a few hundred million years after the earliest evidence of life on Earth, for which there are several candidates. Microbial mat fossils have been found in 3.48 billion-year-old sandstone from Western Australia, while biogenic graphite has been found in 3.7 billion-year-old metamorphized sedimentary rocks from Western Greenland. Studies of 2015 and 2017 have tentatively proposed evidence of life as early as 4.28 billion years ago. A study of 2018 by the University of Bristol based on the application of the concept of a molecular clock indicate the LUCA existed at a time close to but not including 4.5 billion years ago, within the Hadean.Charles Darwin proposed the theory of universal common descent through an evolutionary process in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859, saying, "Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed." Later biologists have separated the problem of the origin of life from that of the LUCA.


In cladistics, a monophyletic group, or clade, is a group of organisms that consists of all the descendants of a common ancestor (or more precisely ancestral population). Monophyletic groups are typically characterised by shared derived characteristics (synapomorphies), which distinguish organisms in the clade from other organisms. The arrangement of the members of a monophyletic group is called a monophyly.

Monophyly is contrasted with paraphyly and polyphyly as shown in the second diagram. A paraphyletic group consists of all of the descendants of a common ancestor minus one or more monophyletic groups. A polyphyletic group is characterized by convergent features or habits of scientific interest (for example, night-active primates, fruit trees, aquatic insects). The features by which a polyphyletic group is differentiated from others are not inherited from a common ancestor.

These definitions have taken some time to be accepted. When the cladistics school of thought became mainstream in the 1960s, several alternative definitions were in use. Indeed, taxonomists sometimes used terms without defining them, leading to confusion in the early literature, a confusion which persists.The first diagram shows a phylogenetic tree with two monophyletic groups. The several groups and subgroups are particularly situated as branches of the tree to indicate ordered lineal relationships between all the organisms shown. Further, any group may (or may not) be considered a taxon by modern systematics, depending upon the selection of its members in relation to their common ancestor(s); see second and third diagrams.

Most recent common ancestor

In biology and genealogy, the most recent common ancestor (MRCA, also last common ancestor (LCA), or concestor) of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all the organisms from such set are directly descended. The term is also used in reference to the ancestry of groups of genes (haplotypes) rather than organisms.

The MRCA of a set of individuals can sometimes be determined by referring to an established pedigree. However, in general, it is impossible to identify the exact MRCA of a large set of individuals, but an estimate of the time at which the MRCA lived can often be given. Such time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) estimates can be given based on DNA test results and established mutation rates as practiced in genetic genealogy, or by reference to a non-genetic, mathematical model or computer simulation.

In organisms using sexual reproduction, the matrilinear MRCA and patrilinear MRCA are the MRCAs of a given population considering only matrilineal and patrilineal descent, respectively. The MRCA of a population by definition cannot be older than either its matrilinear or its patrilinear MRCA.

In the case of Homo sapiens, the matrilinear and patrilinear MRCA are also known as "Mitochondrial Eve" (mt-MRCA) and "Y-chromosomal Adam" (Y-MRCA) respectively.

The age of the human MRCA is unknown. It is necessarily younger than the age of both Y-MRCA and mt-MRCA, estimated at around 200,000 years.

The Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) is the most recent common ancestor of all current life on Earth, estimated to have lived some 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago (in the Paleoarchean).


Neodiapsida is a clade, or major branch, of the reptilian family tree and includes all diapsids apart from some early primitive types known as the araeoscelidians.

In phylogenetic systematics, they are variously defined as the common ancestor and all its descendants of Younginiforms and "crown diapsids" (the common ancestor of lizards, crocodilians and birds, and all their descendants) [Callaway 1997], or all diapsids that are more closely related to Sauria than to Araeoscelidia (Laurin and Gauthier 2000).

Early or basal Permian neodiaspids were lizard-like, but already include specialised forms for swimming (Claudiosaurus) and gliding (Coelurosauravidae), as well as more conventional lizard-like forms (Youngina etc.). Before the end of the Permian, the neodiapsids give rise to the main branches of the diapsid evolutionary tree, the lepidosaurs and archosaurs.


In biology, an organism (from Greek: ὀργανισμός, organismos) is any individual entity that propagates the properties of life. It is a synonym for "life form".

Organisms are classified by taxonomy into specified groups such as the multicellular animals, plants, and fungi; or unicellular microorganisms such as a protists, bacteria, and archaea. All types of organisms are capable of reproduction, growth and development, maintenance, and some degree of response to stimuli. Humans are multicellular animals composed of many trillions of cells which differentiate during development into specialized tissues and organs.

An organism may be either a prokaryote or a eukaryote. Prokaryotes are represented by two separate domains – bacteria and archaea. Eukaryotic organisms are characterized by the presence of a membrane-bound cell nucleus and contain additional membrane-bound compartments called organelles (such as mitochondria in animals and plants and plastids in plants and algae, all generally considered to be derived from endosymbiotic bacteria). Fungi, animals and plants are examples of kingdoms of organisms within the eukaryotes.

Estimates on the number of Earth's current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which only about 1.2 million have been documented. More than 99% of all species, amounting to over five billion species, that ever lived are estimated to be extinct. In 2016, a set of 355 genes from the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of all organisms was identified.


In taxonomy, a group is paraphyletic if it consists of the group's last common ancestor and all descendants of that ancestor excluding a few—typically only one or two—monophyletic subgroups. The group is said to be paraphyletic with respect to the excluded subgroups. The arrangement of the members of a paraphyletic group is called a paraphyly. The term is commonly used in phylogenetics (a subfield of biology) and in linguistics.

The term was coined to apply to well-known taxa like Reptilia (reptiles) which, as commonly named and traditionally defined, is paraphyletic with respect to mammals and birds. Reptilia contains the last common ancestor of reptiles and all descendants of that ancestor, including all extant reptiles as well as the extinct synapsids, except for mammals and birds. Other commonly recognized paraphyletic groups include fish, monkeys, and lizards.If many subgroups are missing from the named group, it is said to be polyparaphyletic. A paraphyletic group cannot be a clade, or monophyletic group, which is any group of species that includes a common ancestor and all of its descendants. Formally, a paraphyletic group is the relative complement of one or more subclades within a clade: removing one or more subclades leaves a paraphyletic group.


Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is recorded through his or her father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, rights, names or titles by persons related through male kin.

A patriline ("father line") is a person's father, and additional ancestors, as traced only through males.

Synapomorphy and apomorphy

In phylogenetics, apomorphy and synapomorphy refer to derived characters of a clade: characters or traits that are derived from ancestral characters over evolutionary history. An apomorphy is a character that is different from the form found in an ancestor, i.e., an innovation, that sets the clade apart from other clades. A synapomorphy is a shared apomorphy that distinguishes a clade from other organisms. In other words, it is an apomorphy shared by members of a monophyletic group, and thus assumed to be present in their most recent common ancestor.

Veneration of the dead

The veneration of the dead, including one's ancestors, is based on love and respect for the deceased. In some cultures, it is related to beliefs that the dead have a continued existence, and may possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their direct, familial ancestors. Certain sects and religions, in particular the Roman Catholic Church, venerate saints as intercessors with God, as well as pray for departed souls in Purgatory.

In Europe, Asia, Oceania, African and Afro-diasporic cultures, the goal of ancestor veneration is to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living, and sometimes to ask for special favours or assistance. The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values, such as filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. Ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.

First-degree relatives
Second-degree relatives
Third-degree relatives


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