A new study has provided a deeper insight into the genome of a nation by sequencing the genomes of 2,636 Icelanders.
It is the largest set ever obtained from a single population and researchers were able to identify that genetic mutations play a role in everything from Alzheimer's disease to liver disease.
AdvertisementThe Icelandic data also suggested that humanity's most recent common male ancestor, the "father" of us all, would have lived between 174,000 and 321,000 years ago.
From an evolutionary standpoint, older species have more time to develop mutations that differentiate individuals, or populations, from one another. That means the age of the human species is also related to how diverse humans are as a whole.
Scientists also used the Icelandic data to identify 8,000 Icelanders who have a least one gene that's completely mute, meaning that it doesn't function at all. Genes associated with people's sense of smell were muted most often, but the researchers found 1,171 silenced genes overall.
The study could yield helpful information about the location of genes that might be less susceptible to this loss of function, Allen says. And even larger studies of this type would go a long way toward figuring out the genetic patterns at finer scales and validating the findings.