The family tree covers the last 500 years of human history. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 NikoLang
Covering 11 generations over a period of 500 years, the family tree is thought to be the largest ever created.
Providing insight in to the genealogical history of Europe and North America, the new tree is also helping scientists to better understand how genes play a role in influencing human lifespans.
It was created by a team of computer scientists using publicly available genealogy data.
"Through the hard work of many genealogists curious about their family history, we crowdsourced an enormous family tree and boom, came up with something unique," said senior author Yaniv Erlich.
The results have helped to paint a more detailed picture of immigration across the Atlantic over the last few centuries as well as how this has influenced marriage.Prior to 1750, for instance, most Americans found a spouse within a distance of six miles from their birthplace. By 1950, this average distance had increased significantly to 60 miles.
It was also discovered that, while women had a tendency to migrate more than men, the men who did migrate tended to travel over larger distances.
By incorporating conventional genetic studies in to their findings, the researchers were also able to determine that having 'good' genes could add an average of five years to a person's lifespan.
"That's not a lot," said Erlich. "Previous studies have shown that smoking takes 10 years off of your life. That means some life choices could matter a lot more than genetics."