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All Life On Earth Have A Single Common Ancestor

“One isn’t such a lonely number. All life on Earth shares a single common ancestor, a new statistical analysis confirms.

The idea that life forms share a common ancestor is “a central pillar of evolutionary theory,” says Douglas Theobald, a biochemist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. “But recently there has been some mumbling, especially from microbiologists, that it may not be so cut-and-dried.”

Because microorganisms of different species often swap genes, some scientists have proposed that multiple primordial life forms could have tossed their genetic material into life’s mix, creating a web, rather than a tree of life.

To determine which hypothesis is more likely correct, Theobald put various evolutionary ancestry models through rigorous statistical tests.

The results, published in the May 13 Nature, come down overwhelmingly on the side of a single ancestor.”

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