UPI (via Ideofact) reports on a population genetics study of Asia which concludes that some Mongol or another, living about a thousand years ago, has over 16 million living descendants in the direct male line, meaning that his reproductive fitness was about 800,000 times higher than average. (The calculation described in the UPI piece seems, if anything, to underestimate his relative fitness.) The most likely candidate is of course Genghis Khan. Brad DeLong, who would know, asserts that he was also probably the first man responsible for over ten million human deaths. Evidently he was making room for his descendants (who almost certainly include me). The UPI writer fairly swiftly descends into silliness about lost treasure and cloning, but the original paper sounds worth a look.
Posted at February 10, 2003 23:58 | permanent link