How Long Ago Did the Common Ancestors of All Humans Live?

The common ancestors of all humans are thought to have lived 2,000-3,000 years ago. The term "common ancestor" is used in the study of human genetic heritage and refers to an individual from which a group is directly descended. It is thought that anyone who was alive about 3,000 years ago is either an ancestor of everyone now on Earth or not an ancestor of anyone now on Earth.

More about human ancestors:

  • All people of European descent are thought to have the first Holy Ruler of Europe, Charlemagne, as a common ancestor.

  • It is believed that the most common ancestor for Neanderthals lived more than 500,000 years ago, which some scientists believe could mean that Neanderthals did not contribute any genetic material to modern humans.

  • The most common female ancestor of all humans is referred to by scientists as Mitochondrial Eve.

More Info:

Discussion Comments


There is an excellent article in the July 2013 National Geographic magazine titled “The Case of the Missing Ancestor” by Jamie Shreeve, that discusses the DNA breakdown of modern Humans vs Neanderthals. It even adds a new twist with the recent discovery of the Denisovans, a closely related cousin to the Neanderthals.

Now as to the post at the top of this page, I would need to see the research data before I could ever come close to believing this. There were well over 10 million inhabitants on this planet 3000 years ago and the thought that a single common ancestor gave rise to the 7 billion here today is just too much to believe. 3000 years would also not be enough time to create the diversity that exist amongst the many races of today.


I think that you are right about Aboriginal Australians. They are very ancient and very unique. They left a long-back pictorial history. Many class them as "black" because of their skin color, but their faces and hair do not appear to be African. They probably never encountered Neanderthals. They evolved in 40,000 year isolation. We are now finding other humanoid species in isolated locations such as the small bodied "hobbits" found on an isolated Island along with fossils of miniature elephants, etc. This has become an interesting thread.


How is this possible, since the ancestors of the American Indians are believed to have come from Asia, traveling over land that has now been underwater for about eighteen thousand years? The Paleoindians would have left Eurasia many centuries before the 2-3,000 year old universal ancestor suggested by this article so could not be descendants of the universal ancestor.


To quote: "It is thought that anyone who was alive about 3,000 years ago is either an ancestor of everyone now on Earth or not an ancestor of anyone now on Earth"

In other words: The humans that lived 3,000 years ago either are or are NOT related to those alive today.



An article in the March, 2013, issue of Discover Magazine, Interbreeding With Neanderthals by Carl Zimmer, described research by David Reich, a geneticist at the Harvard Medical School, that seems to prove that modern humans originated in Africa, as is the common belief, but came into contact with Neanderthals. Some interbreeding (maybe one surviving offspring in 30 years, repeated) has resulted in European and Asian humans having 2.5 percent Neanderthal DNA. African humans have none. Very interesting article.


I'm sure this isn't true of some Aboriginal Australians living back then.


The NOVA program is described and is for sale at PBS. You will have to go to the PBS site to see it. (can't post web addresses here)


heh heh


There are scientists who recognize Neanderthals as completely human just like us. (Oard 2003a; Phillips 2000; Robertson and Sarfati 2003). If that is the case, they would absolutely have the same DNA. There were several sites where Neanderthals and modern humans were buried together. Jack Cuozzo wrote a book "Buried Alive!" that presented a theory of where they came from. Also Marvin Lubenow, who wrote a more influential book called "Bones of Contention." Neither theory has anything about Neanderthals being ancient ape-men.


Checking the internet for the Nova program you mentioned produced an article, "Tracing Ancestry with MtDNA" by Rick Groleau, that included a conclusion, not proof, that Neanderthals did not contribute to modern human gene pool. (2002 article using 1987 Nature article on the research.) I am still looking for more.


The DNA research was described in a PBS NOVA program recently. I can't give the exact date.


Please supply references to the DNA research to which you refer, dwp. I have done some reading on the subject, but apparently not enough. Thanks.


This article and its statements sound like they came out of a very fundamentalist biblical tract. I guess the key is "are thought to...". DNA research has revealed that many of us possess Neanderthal DNA. (I recall a girl whose boyfriend certainly gave this theory credibility).

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