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Science AMA Series: I’m Yaniv Erlich, from Columbia University, we analyzed the family tree of 13 million people to understand human longevity and marriage patterns, AMA!
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Hi, I am Yaniv Erlich – the Chief Science Officer of MyHeritage and an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. We published a paper yesterday in Science describing a family tree of 13 million people by crowd sourcing the hard work of millions of genealogists. This pedigree spans all habitable continents and over 500 hundred years. We used the pedigree to understand the genetics of human longevity and found that genetics explain a smaller role in longevity. Genes account for only 5% on average of the differences in life span between individuals. For comparison, previous studies showed that smoking reduces life expectancy by 10yrs. We also used the data to trace migration patterns in the Western world. We looked at historical patterns of marriages and analyzed how long people had to migrate to find the love of their life and who is the person was (hint: someone in your family). Our data suggests that technological advancements did not change consanguineous marriages but rather cultural changes such as social taboos. Ask me anything!