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!
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!