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Why Are We So Interested In Our Roots?

And their kids? My second cousins once removed. Their kids? Second cousins twice removed.

Relationship Terms

Alice J. So there you have it. But why are we so fascinated with our family trees? Scientists say we have an instinctual urge to learn more about our family members because we share the same genes. The deep-rooted interest in our ancestry is partly shaped by evolutionary forces, Beverly Strassmann, a University of Michigan anthropologist, told LiveScience. Humans care about family members because they share some of our genes.

Commonly, " cousin " refers to a "first cousin", people whose most recent common ancestor is a grandparent. More generally, cousin is a type of familial relationship in which people with a known common ancestor are both two or more generations away from their most recent common ancestor.


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This distinguishes a cousin from an ancestor, descendant, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. Systems of "degrees" and "removals" are used in the English-speaking world to describe the exact relationship between two cousins in the broad sense and the ancestor they have in common. People are related with a type of cousin relationship if they share a common ancestor and the most recent common ancestor is two or more generations away from both people.

In the English system the cousin relationship is further detailed by degree and removal. For example, the "second cousin once removed" relationship is a "second-degree cousin" with one removal. When the degree is not specified first cousin is assumed. When the removal is not specified no removal is assumed. Removal in the cousin relationship is the number of generations the cousins are separated by. When the cousins are separated by a different number of generations from the most recent common ancestor, the cousin relationship is removed. The difference between the number of generations for each cousin is the removal.

Two people can be removed but be around the same age due to differences in birth dates of parents children and other relevant ancestors. The degree of the cousin relationship is the number of generations prior to the parents before a most recent common ancestor is found. If the cousins are removed, the smaller number of generations to the most recent common ancestor is used to determine the degree of the cousin relationship.


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If one had to go back two generations beyond the parents great grandparents and the other had to go back two or more they would be second cousins. Double cousins arise when two siblings of one family mate with two siblings of another family. Double first cousins share both sets of grandparents and have twice the degree of consanguinity of ordinary first cousins. Half cousins are descended from half siblings. If half siblings have children with another pair of half siblings, the resulting children would be double first half cousins.

A maternal cousin is a cousin that is related to the mother's side of the family, while a paternal cousin is a cousin that is related to the father's side of the family.

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Unlike all the other cousin relationships discussed thus far, this relationship is not necessarily reciprocal, as the maternal cousin of one person could be the paternal cousin of the other. Parallel and cross cousins on the other hand are reciprocal relationships. Parallel cousins are descended from same-sex siblings. Cousins that are related to same-sex siblings of their most recent common ancestor are parallel cousins. A parallel first cousin is either the paternal cousin on the father's side of the family or the maternal cousin on the mother's side of the family.

Cross cousins are descendants from opposite-sex siblings. A cross first cousin is either the maternal cousin on the father's side of the family or the paternal cousin on the mother's side of the family. Stepcousins are either stepchildren of an individual's aunt or uncle, nieces and nephews of one's stepparent, or the children of one's parent's stepsibling.

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A "table of consanguinity ", is helpful in identifying the degree of cousin relationship between two people using their most recent common ancestor as the reference point. Cousinship between two people can be specifically described in degrees and removals by determining how close, generationally, the common ancestor is to each person. Another visual chart used in determining the legal relationship between two people who share a common ancestor is a " canon law relationship chart".

Since the graph is symmetrical the placement of either party in the relationship on either side of the graph is arbitrary. For these non symmetrical relationships the relationship of the person from the most recent generation is displayed i. Cousin marriage is important in several anthropological theories which often differentiate between matriarchal and patriarchal parallel and cross cousins.

Some groups encourage cousin marriage while others attach a strong social stigma to it.

What Is a Second Cousin Twice Removed - This Chart Explains It All | WeHaveKids

In some regions in the Middle East over half of all marriages are between first and second cousins. In other places it is legally prohibited and culturally equivalent to incest.


  1. A Dangerous Refuge;
  2. Family Reunion;
  3. Finally, a chart explaining who your second cousin twice removed is.
  4. Married couples that possess higher than normal consanguinity , shared identical DNA and genetic material, have an increased chance of sharing genes for recessive traits. First cousins have four times the consanguinity of second cousins, while first cousins once removed have half that of first cousins. Double first cousins share both sets of grandparents and have twice the degree of consanguinity of ordinary first cousins; genetically, they are as related as half-siblings.

    Children of these marriages may have an increased risk of genetic disorders , particularly if their parents both carry a harmful recessive mutation. In a scenario where two monozygotic identical twins mate with another pair of monozygotic twins, the resulting double cousins would test as genetically similar as siblings.

    Scientists through multiple studies have established a substantial and consistent positive correlation between the kinship of couples and the number of children and grandchildren they have. The deCODE study results show that couples related at the level of third cousins have the greatest number of offspring, with the greatest reproductive success observed for couples related at the level of third and fourth cousins.

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    The study result was somewhat counterintuitive from an evolutionary perspective because closely related parents have a higher probability of having offspring homozygous for deleterious recessive mutations, although closer parental kinship can also decrease the likelihood of immunological incompatibility between mother and offspring, for example in rhesus factor blood type.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    Watch First Cousin Once Removed English Movie

    For other uses, see Cousin disambiguation. For other uses, see Cousins disambiguation.