The Human Family Tree

The Human Family Tree

Ratings: 7.25/10 from 185 users.

The Human Family TreeOn a single day on a single street, with the DNA of just a couple of hundred random people, National Geographic Channel sets out to trace the ancestral footsteps of all humanity.

Narrated by Kevin Bacon, The Human Family Tree travels to one of the most diverse corners of the world -- Queens, N.Y. -- to demonstrate how we all share common ancestors who embarked on very different journeys.

Regardless of race, nationality or religion, all of us can trace our ancient origin back to the cradle of humanity, East Africa. What did our collective journey look like, and where did it take your specific ancestors?

At what point in our past did we first cross paths with the supposed strangers living in our neighborhood? Now, in The Human Family Tree, the people of this quintessential American melting pot find out that their connections go much deeper than a common ZIP code.

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Jay Sumlin
5 months ago

Science tells our true human story.

yo momma
2 years ago

people aint migrate out of africa they were all forced out by white people..

2 years ago

why are human i am cryin gwtf

7 years ago

how are humans dispersed throughout the world?

nasraster ali
7 years ago

that video its so good. it make me understanding about the human family tree.

7 years ago

we need to ask something about the human family tree

Kimberly Christensen
8 years ago

why do you say "G-d".. ahh gees.. im not a close minded person but really..

9 years ago

Explains a hell of a lot more than any superstitious magic fairy tale Religion ever could, that's for certain.
And it has some credible evidence to back it up, unlike any Religion on Earth.

t hopps
9 years ago

Spencer Wells made a doc over 10 yrs ago taking DNA samples from widely diverse people around the world. This doc like that one only goes so far in the investigation of our ancestors.

9 years ago

Beautiful! There is only one race and that is HUMAN :)

Heidi Standell
9 years ago

Some of the comments on here seem very, well, to put it bluntly, racist. Since this documentary was made there has been even more dna testing done that affirms the first homo sapiens branch of "human" migrated OUT OF AFRICA and all the way to Australia (where there is DNA evidence that ancient Australians have a genetic heritage similar to the San tribe of central/southern Africa). There were many more African sourced migrations and people have settled and displaced and lines have become extinct and others flourished and split off and this story never ended and never will--everyone alive today has the tale of this genetic migratory history in their DNA! Why is this idea so aggressively attacked?

9 years ago

I think the point here is not to prove anything scientifically or rigid, but a heart warming experiment to show how much we all have in common as humans and how indeed, we are all brothers and sisters from the same family. From that vantage it was a great success and quite moving.
The one and only qualm I had with this piece was when the narrators had to take another crack at the poor Neanderthal; at how the first European humans did 'em in. The fact is we don't what was the cause of the Neanderthal extinction and until we do should give the dead their dignity.

10 years ago

OK the scientific Adam is 60 000 and eve 200 000. u detrmine that by mitohindrial an Y kromosom genom which does not change. If it doesnt change how do u know how old it is? How can u be sure that the rate of mutations is constant through time? Why do u keep telling that the neadrethal went extinct when ppl living today have neandrethal DNA? What exacly makes neandrethals a seperate species?

The bottle-neck is a theory not a fact. The fact that at some point in time u have 1000 or 10 versions of a gene does not mean that u have 1000 or 10 individuals. The reduction of diversity in a gene does not equal a reduction in population.

Genetics and science are not cooking, stop simplifying it to the point of ridiculous.

Stop pissing from a (anitwar) moral highground on ppl from Bosnia in a documatary made in a country that has 100 000's of soldiers stationed in countries all over the world "defending" not it's land and ppl but it's interests.

Horrible doc sorry for teh time spent on it.

10 years ago

Bravo! Most people of color have always heard that they were the original inhabitants of the earth; so its not new to many of us but nice that we can agree on that fact. I share this piece as much as I can. It is unfortunate that this has not gotten the media attention that it desires. Perhaps we could all get along now or at least behave like a real family, albeit a dysfunctional one that wants to seat down and solve what ails and divides us. I am game, are you?

Carolee Stout
10 years ago

Very nicely done, but... aaah, the arrogance of our scientists! They are so certain about the information they distill, UNTIL the next finding, which will change everything. I have learned to be skeptical of such programs, knowing that there is much more to learn about human history. For example... who knew there was a step pyramid in the United States, just 10 minutes from the St. Louis arch? Cahokia... an amazing religious complex, larger than any of the pyramids of Giza. Who knows about it today? Science needs to do a lot more digging and exploring right here at home. What lies buried in the ground of North America? What would human remains found HERE tell us? That would be a very interesting story. I'm afraid I would still be skeptical of our all-knowing, every confident scientists but... it would be interesting.

10 years ago

Forgive me for playing the skeptic but the premise of this documentary seems too narrowly construed. I've been coming to an understanding of how our ability to learn rests upon our ability to distill and compartmentalize input but these techniques seem to fall short on some subjects.

Calling our solitary ancestors 'Scientific Adam and Eve' seems to highlight the flaw. Just as a god gives the quick and easy answers to difficult questions so it seems do Scientific Adam and Scientific Eve.

I don't know what to believe but I have not ruled out the possibility that our genetic split didn't happen far earlier. It seems reasonable to assume that a genome separated by geography but given similar circumstances, i.e. the tropical climate of prehistorical S. Africa and northern S. America, would develop in a somewhat parallel fashion. Whatever mutations that were likely to survive in a particular environment would be likely to survive in another very similar environment. This would allow for humans to develop in the Americas independent of the African continent which seems much more likely than that ridiculous walk through such varied climates as Arctic and Tropical.

The skill sets required for such a journey, even if made over generations are so varied that it sounds like a death sentence. Moreover what possible reasons could those creatures have for such a punishing adventure?

Scientific Adam and Eve seem as plausible as the biblical pair. But who knows? I sure don't. And for that reason I'm absolutely sure of, and would fight to the death to defend, the fact that we should all keep an open mind.

Thanks for reading my ridiculous opinion all the way down to the very last .... .

10 years ago

We are 1 Huge family

Sharon Thiel
10 years ago

Without a benchmark for morality....a premise upon which there is understanding for what is "wrong" or "right" or "acceptable" or "unacceptable".... there is no definition for morality.
It is something like this:
A long time ago I spent a day with the young mother of twins who were about 18 months old at the time. Her major conversation with them was "no", "we don't DO that", and my personal favorite, "you know better than to do that". It's my favorite because the child looked up at mom and lifted his hands palm upward and said "what do?"
At this point the mom was getting very frustrated and turned to me and said, "I just can't get them to stop........(whatever the messy action was that displeased her)". I quietly asked, "Have you told/shown them what you DO want them to do? I mean, instead of saying 'Don't" saying, "do this instead of that?" She just looked at me and said, "but they KNOW". And I asked,"How?" She started to speak and and then stopped. After a moment she said, "Well, we all have common sense when we're born, right? We know what's right and what's wrong!" Again I asked, "How?" The more she thought about it the more I saw comprehension in her eyes. She finally said,"I don't understand why I didn't think about that before."
My reply was simple: "We sometimes don't realize that we learn virtually everything by watching, hearing and being shown/told. To some extent we can learn by trial and error, but that is a poor method for beings of such high intelligence. Humans will rarely do the right thing by instinct, they must have seen it modeled or be instructed. It is the nature of us, and that is just the way it is." That was the end of the conversation as I recall it. I moved away soon after.
Years later I learned from someone else that this mom had responded to a compliment about her kids by sharing that her sons were such quick learners, and quickly comprehended the value in a positive choice, because 'some neighbor had made her realize years before that kids don't come with a downloaded instruction book for civilized living...they have to be shown and shaped with positive direction, and learning that had changed everything about her household with the kids."
It made me feel good to know a small conversation could make such a difference, but it also made me more convinced that it is a true principle that genuine morality is not instinctive to humans, though the ability to grasp and embrace its value when it is revealed to us may well be. The Creator of life lacks nothing in wisdom and skill :-)

Inanna Shu
10 years ago

not sure that i quite believe the african origins,If the Sumerian culture is the oldest known documented then how can African genetics be considered to be the beginning of man.

10 years ago

Loved this documentary! Very interesting. Makes sense. Look at how we respond to more or less sun, heat, altitude etc individually, let alone as a culture. Why wouldn't this change us permanently over the generations?

11 years ago

Wow! The video was intersting to watch i was kind of suprised that we started in Africa. But i wounder How did they (scientist) come up with the idea to do all of this research and also how they tend to find DNA that is hundres thousands years ago?

12 years ago

It would be so funny to analyse the genetic of some racists! Many could be surprised! Imagine this Arab or that Jew, Iranian or whatever...
Having the fact under the nose that they are "Far cousins"!
An insult? They'd refuse to be tested.
Today, in the case of some orthodox Jews, they only can marry between themself! But this technic overpass many milleniums.

And I think that their "Bible" (Thora) state that the beginning of time, the creation of human beings, dates back to only 5,000 years.
As well, same thing for some religious christian fundamentalists I heard of.


12 years ago


As a lover of anthropology and genetics, I was thrilled by this journey. Wasn't bored for a second. Watched this three times over three months, actually.

My brother lives very close to this street in Brooklyn. I am so thrilled when I can walk down the street and see all different kinds of people.

12 years ago

...boring... the interviews with New Yorkers and their reflections on what they consider their heritage, which would only be a few hundred years back at best, is a big snore. The journey of MODERN HUMANS and how we populated the planet and the archeological and DNA evidence is much more interesting - the personal stories of the New Yorkers break up the interesting bits. The British series 'The Incredible Human Journey' is a much better documentary.

jonathan jackward
12 years ago


12 years ago

i read that no matter how different anyone looks from anyone else on the planet that we are never more than 50th cousins apart and often much closer
when people talk about 'races' they need to understand that superficial the differences are the result of adaptation to local environments.

I have Wells' book too.. but havent read it .. yet ^^

12 years ago

We are all part Neanderthal - except those indiginous Africans like the San.
This means that the San and their kin are the thoroughbred, pure H. Sapiens.
Everyone else are cross-breeds, mongrels if you will !

12 years ago

Interesting, so bible and scientific theory agree on something, that all people alive descended from a single man and a single woman. It's not much, but it's an agreement. Yes I know there's 6 million other things they don't agree on ...

Gary V
12 years ago

A superb doc & it's great that all the racists can finally realise that we can all trace our ancestors back to Africa. We are all one race, the Human race & there ain't a damn thing that you can do about it, It's in your DNA.

Taharqa (Conqueror of Egypt)
12 years ago

Wow this is so amazing!!!
It's funny how when the minority of honest scientist disagree with the majority of biased or prejudice scientists they are immediately disqualified as rubbish, stupid or delusional.
I know this documentary will piss some people off when they discover where they actually originated from. I wouldn't mention any names though LoL!!!
This documentary should be translated in all languages and be shown in every school or classroom across the globe, and should be taught as history 101.
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician) may he R.I.P. would have loved to actually see most crooked or biased anthropologists and historians' faces when it was finally confirmed and revealed that the MONO-GENETIC theory ruled over the POLY-GENETIC theory( multiple origins of humans) which supported the ideology of inferior and superior human races.
In 1912, a British geologist attempted to prove that life had begun in England by piecing together a fake fossil supposedly found on British soil. The fabricated skull was later found to have been a fake by an honest English anthropologist in the 1950's.The fabricated skull was later found to have been a fake by an English anthropologist in the 1950's. It was determined to have been constructed using the mandible and canine teeth of a monkey.
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop later reinforced his belief in the mono-genetic theory by saying "If Africans never left Africa, the rest of the world would be an unpeopled desert."

keep up the good work as usual Vlatko!!!
The truth shall always prevail!!!
peace out!!

Taharqa (Conqueror of Egypt)

12 years ago

By the way; talking of Christmas, there are demonstrations in the streets (well one street) here in Britain because the pc brigade want to call Christmas the Festival of Lights just in case it upsets Muslims. WTF! Festival of Lights??? I suppose next we have to rename Easter to Carnival of Eggs. Politicians and Zealots should be shot into space so the world can actually have some peace and quiet.

12 years ago

Nae bad, follows The Incredible Human Journey quite nicely

you can also add: another theory like gravitation, no? :)
good&evil, ying&yang these are abstract ideas with no reflection in nature; created by people just as imperfect as we all are.

I really hope that in such a world we'd have some ritualistic hobbit-foot-massages. And just imagine the Xmas spread...

12 years ago

I really cant get my head around how some people think the "good" book is literal fact. Maybe in 2000 years people will think Lord of the Rings is the truth and trees talked, dragons hoarded gold and hairy footed midgets were the saviours of mankind.

13 years ago

Everything changes in time, even the sciences & scientists. another theory like evolution...

Do not get carried away mankind!!! 'cos not all come from the same seed. Always a negative seed and positive seed existed.
Yin Yang.....

Its the Negative who's always trying to link to the Positive. not in the idea of bringing peace and love. But in the idea of Globalization. Watch out its the ego capitalists sponsoring SCIENCEs.

13 years ago


13 years ago

he should be looking for the genectic ape marker,if we decended or trace are liniage from one region then he should trace the ape we came from since darwin therory has been forced through are edgucation stystem to be the truth ,but wich ape species we came from,if we came from one original rrace then we came from one original ape ????? or is dna evidence not sound science.

13 years ago

What wonderful world.

13 years ago

Hint , Hint.

13 years ago

I have to agree and copy that statement.

Alone at last , right?

13 years ago


SOunds like home.

Is that on TDF? I love Louis.

13 years ago

None if science doesnt prevail over the simple religious and smaller grievances. Maybe when we are all gone.

James Jackson
13 years ago

@Pacha: Good point! Made me think of all the family arguments behind all the divergences in Well's map of human migration.

13 years ago

@ James Jackson
I was watching Louis Theroux's weird Christmas last night.
He'd gathered four americans together who had very different beliefs and ideals, just for a few days at christmas.
Only four people (out of 6 billion) but you wouldn't believe how difficult it was to get them to agree on anything.
What chance have we got of ever advancing really?

13 years ago

Well clearly the christians aren't evolving so I say we throw Allan out of the lifeboat first.

James Jackson
13 years ago

Yes, rtm, this video offers too much political correctitude. In one part Wells says different "DNA doesn't mean you're better..." without defining what "better" might be, but, certainly, many remote ancestors lacked certain DNA to survive and, fortunately, died off without passing their defective genes down to us. "Better," of course, means better adapted to one's environment and able to adapt to changing environments.

We are all similar back to a point. Go back 5 million years when lived our common ancestor with chimpanzees. Aren't we "better" than chimpanzees, even though "97%" the same? We are all better than that single-cell which generated all life on earth, I would suppose.

I can't get into Neanderthals, but the latest Science Today restates and confirms genetically our interbreeding with them at one point, but I doubt I would be sexually attracted to one were they around today.

If the weight of several disparate strangers were sinking a lifeboat, those least like the others would be the first thrown overboard--it's in our DNA.

I do have hope for humanity, though first Allan and his ilk must evolve out of the race before we can all agree. Were it not for religion, for example, Jews and Palestinians would be happily interbred by now, concerned only with paying the mortgage and acquiring digital devices.

13 years ago

I'm pretty sure extensive DNA testing and investigation will tell you a hell of a lot more than "one glance."

"damn anti-racism... unification of nations."
Are you serious? Oh no, not anti-racism or unity, anything but that. Run for your lives, it's tolerance!

Think harder, you're only looking skin deep. Literally.

13 years ago


you didn't watch the doc, did you?

13 years ago

It’s interesting that 60’000 years ago there was a tall cigarillo smoking bushman that passed on his y-chromosone to all of us guys!!

That means that in 60’000 years from now everyone coul be descendants of Achems Razors… What a wonderful world that would be…

Socializtic health care and quantum mechanics for all…

13 years ago

It's interesting that 60'000 years ago there was a tall cigarillo smoking bushman that passed on his y-chromosone to all of us guys!!

That means that in 60'000 years from now everyone coul be descendants of Achems Razors... What a wonderful world that would be...

Socialistic health care and quantum mechanics for all...

Fan of Vlatko^^
13 years ago


hope u never find the key to get out of ur house. mankind has enough dangerous need 4 u