Ancestor


Ancestor

An ancestor is a parent or (recursively) the parent of an ancestor (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, great-great-great-grandparent, great-great-great-great-grandparent, and so forth).

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 who 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.

Assuming that all ancestors are unrelated, an individual has 2"n" ancestors in the "n"th generation before him and about 2"g"+1 total ancestors in the "g" generations before him. In practise, however, it's clear that the vast majority of ancestors of humans (and indeed any other species) are somehow related (see Pedigree collapse). Consider "n" = 40: the human species is surely more than 40 generations old, yet the number 240 dwarfs the number of humans that have ever lived.

As far as contribution to one's autosomal DNA is concerned (this does not include Y-chromosomal DNA or mitochondrial DNA) assuming that none of one's ancestors had children with relatives (even distant relatives), an individual has a total of 2046 ancestors up to the 10th generation, 1024 of which are 10th-generation ancestors. With the same assumption, any given person has over a million 20th-generation ancestors (generally equivalent to around 500 years) and this theoretical number increases past the total population of the world at around 1400 AD.

Some cultures place great reverence on ancestors, both living and dead; contrastingly, people in more youth-oriented cultural contexts may display a lesser degree of veneration for 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".

ee also

*Genealogy
*Ancestor worship
*Cousin
*Family
*Family relationship
*Most recent common ancestor
*Kinship
*Ethnicity


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  • ancestor — an·ces·tor n 1 a: a person from whom an individual is descended: ascendant b: a person from whom an estate descends compare heir 2: one that precedes ancestor in title …   Law dictionary

  • ancestor — ancestor, progenitor, forefather, forebear mean a person from whom one is descended. Ancestor, especially in genealogical and in historical use, implies lineal descent through one’s father or mother {he had three ancestors who were judges} but it …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Ancestor — An ces*tor, n. [OE. ancestre, auncestre, also ancessour; the first forms fr. OF. ancestre, F. anc[^e]tre, fr. the L. nom. antessor one who goes before; the last form fr. OF. ancessor, fr. L. acc. antecessorem, fr. antecedere to go before; ante… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ancestor — [an′ses΄tər; ] also [, an′səstər, an′sistər] n. [ME & OFr ancestre < L antecessor, one who goes before < pp. of antecedere < ante , before + cedere, to go] 1. any person from whom one is descended, esp. one earlier in a family line than… …   English World dictionary

  • ancestor — ancestor. См. предок. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • ancestor — (n.) c.1300, ancestre, antecessour, from O.Fr. ancestre (12c., Mod.Fr. ancêtre), from L.L. antecessor predecessor, lit. foregoer, agent noun from pp. stem of L. antecedere to precede, from ante before (see ANTE (Cf. ante)) + ce …   Etymology dictionary

  • ancestor — [n] predecessor in family antecedent, antecessor, ascendant, forebear, forefather, foregoer, foremother, forerunner, founder, precursor, primogenitor, progenitor; concept 414 Ant. descendant …   New thesaurus

  • ancestor — ► NOUN 1) a person, typically one more remote than a grandparent, from whom one is descended. 2) something from which a later species or version has evolved. DERIVATIVES ancestral adjective ancestrally adverb ancestress noun. ORIGIN Latin… …   English terms dictionary

  • ancestor — 01. My [ancestors] came to this country from Asia thousands of years ago. 02. The sabre tooth tiger is an early [ancestor] of the domestic cat. 03. In my culture, we pray to our [ancestors] every day. 04. The native people have asked the museum… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • ancestor — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ direct ▪ The builder of the house was a direct ancestor of the present owner. ▪ immediate ▪ ancient, distant, early, remote …   Collocations dictionary


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