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We Are Surrounded by Relatives Every Day And Don't Even Know It, Research Reveals

PETER DOCKRILL
6 JUL 2015

Everybody's curious when it comes to discovering unknown factoids about their family tree, but new research from the UK makes clear just how diversely spread our DNA really is.

 

A new demographic analysis by genealogy service AncestryDNA provides some truly fascinating statistics that highlight just how interwoven the family histories of British people can be. Turns out, for the average Brit, there's a one-in-300 chance that a complete stranger is in fact their cousin.

"It’s incredible to think that many of us will be in daily contact with unknown relatives - with no idea that we share much more than the same sporting team or commute to work," said Brad Argent, commercial director of AncestryDNA.

Using a population growth model along with census information and fertility rate data from various sources, researchers at AncestryDNA found that the average British person has 193,000 living cousins within Britain. That’s enough cousins to fill Wembley Stadium twice over.

And it only gets weirder: the average Brit would come across two cousins for every 2.6 square kilometres (1 square mile) of land in Britain, and Londoners are estimated to share their daily commute on the Tube (the city's famous underground network) with some 12,000 or so unknown relatives, with a 24 percent chance they're in fact sharing the ride with a cousin.

Maybe that's why people dislike travelling on public transport so much: it's actually just another forced family outing with some of those distant relatives you're never really too sure about... on the way to work, no less!

Of course, AncestryDNA's analysis is only looking at British data, but it's just the latest piece of jaw-dropping genealogy research indicating how all of us are surrounded by distant family members every day and we don't even know it.

In 2013, researchers from the University of California, Davis, found that all people of European descent are related, with "individuals from opposite ends of Europe [still] expected to share millions of common genealogical ancestors over the last 1,000 years."