A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in by Adam Rutherford

By Adam Rutherford

This is a narrative approximately you. it's the background of who you're and the way you got here to be. it really is precise to you, because it is to every of the a hundred billion sleek people who've ever drawn breath. however it can be our collective tale, simply because in each of our genomes we each one hold the historical past of our species—births, deaths, disorder, warfare, famine, migration, and many sex.

considering that scientists first learn the human genome in 2001, it's been topic to every type of claims, counterclaims, and myths. actually, as Adam Rutherford explains, our genomes may be learn now not as guide manuals, yet as epic poems. DNA determines a long way below we've been ended in think approximately us as members, yet greatly extra approximately us as a species.

during this attractive trip throughout the increasing panorama of genetics, Adam Rutherford finds what our genes now let us know approximately heritage, and what heritage tells us approximately our genes. From Neanderthals to homicide, from redheads to race, lifeless kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, it is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we're and the way we got here to be.

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You end up with millions of copies of the original template. Each one of the letters of DNA physically links to the one that precedes it and the one that follows, whereas English full stops halt any sentence. The polymerase molecule trundles along adding the next letter one at a time like a typewriter copying a line of text. In DNA sequencing, you add not just the correct letter molecules, but also a few that act as full stops. Because so many copies are made during this process, and because the full stops are added randomly, what you end up with is a swill of DNA molecules that stop at e ev eve ever every every s every si every sin every sing every singl every single every single l every single le every single let every single lett every single lette every single letter every single letter.

Life on Earth has been continuous in that time, and we are a dot on that grey continuum. Conjure up that image of a hairy monkey-like ape on all fours, to the left of a crouching ape, to the left of a hunched stooping ape, to the left of an upright, modern bearded man-ape like us wielding a flint-tipped spear with his right leg cocked coyly forward to protect us from seeing his immodest instruments of biological transition. This iconic image implies something that we now know is untrue. We just don’t know the pathway of the apes that led to us.

That is a reasonable longevity for a human species. 9 million years ago. But the Neanderthals still clocked up a longer innings than we have so far. We anatomically modern humans are generally thought to have evolved in eastern Africa around 200,000 years ago, and emerged out of Africa in our own exodus sometime in the last 100,000 years. This number inches up every few years, as more specimens are found. A discovery in October 2015, from the Fuyan cave in the Daoxian region in southern China, dug up forty-seven modern teeth at least 80,000 years old, and it’s not unreasonable to presume that the owners of those teeth took some tens of thousands of years to get that far east from the motherland.

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