And if anyone can address the "6,000,000 to 1 odds" claim, I'd love to see it. That sounds kind of fishy to me but I know I don't have the math.
The idea that virtually anyone with a European ancestor descends from English royalty seems bizarre, but it accords perfectly with some recent research done by Joseph Chang, a statistician at Yale University. The mathematics of our ancestry is exceedingly complex, because the number of our ancestors increases exponentially, not linearly. These numbers are manageable in the first few generations -- two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great- grandparents -- but they quickly spiral out of control. Go back forty generations, or about a thousand years, and each of us theoretically has more than a trillion direct ancestors -- a figure that far exceeds the total number of human beings who have ever lived.
In a 1999 paper titled "Recent Common Ancestors of All Present-Day Individuals [pdf]," Chang showed how to reconcile the potentially huge number of our ancestors with the quantities of people who actually lived in the past. His model is a mathematical proof that relies on such abstractions as Poisson distributions and Markov chains, but it can readily be applied to the real world. Under the conditions laid out in his paper, the most recent common ancestor of every European today (except for recent immigrants to the Continent) was someone who lived in Europe in the surprisingly recent past only about six hundred years ago. In other words, all Europeans alive today have among their ancestors the same man or woman who lived around 1400. Before that date, according to Chang's model, the number of ancestors common to all Europeans today increased until, about a thousand years ago, a peculiar situation prevailed: 20 percent of the adult Europeans alive in 1000 would turn out to be the ancestors of no one living today (that is, they had no children or all their descendants eventually died childless); each of the remaining 80 percent would turn out to be a direct ancestor of every European living today. - source
He knows, I'd bet, he's a PlantagenetThat doesn't rhyme.
He knows, I'd bet, he's a Plantagenet
The mathematical study of genealogy indicates that everyone in the world is descended from Nefertiti and Confucius, and everyone of European ancestry is descended from Muhammad and Charlemagne
Ron: You're a parselmouth! Why didn't you tell us?
Harry: I'm a what?
Hermione: You can talk to snakes!
Harry: I know. I mean, I accidentally set a python on my cousin Dudley at the zoo once. Once. But so what? I bet loads of people here can do it.
Hermione: No, they can't! It's not a very common gift, Harry. This is bad.
Harry: What's bad? If I hadn't told that snake not to attack Justin...
Ron: Oh, that's what you said to it?
Harry: You were there! You heard me!
Ron: I head you speaking parseltongue. Snake language.
Harry: I spoke a different language? But I didn't realize... how can speak a language without knowing I can?
Hermione: I don't know, Harry, but it sounded like you were egging the snake on or something. Harry, listen to me. There's a reason the symbol of Slytherin house is a serpent. Salazar Slytherin was a parselmouth, he could talk to snakes too.
Ron: Exactly! Now the whole school is gonna think you're his great-great-great-grandson or something.
Harry: But I'm not! I can't be.
Hermione: He lived a thousand years ago. For all we know, you could be.
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