Imagine how many rabbits there would be without predators

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Of the 102 passengers of the Mayflower, 24 males produced children to carry on their surnames. And although approximately half of the Mayflower passengers died at the plantation during the harsh winter of 1620-21 (one passenger had died at sea while another was born before landing), today, a staggering 35 million people claim an ancestral lineage that runs all the way back – sometimes through fifteen generations – to the original 24 males. That number represents 12 percent of the American population.”

To see if my estimate yesterday works I’ll use yesterday’s table which says that a person has 32,768 potential 13th great grandparents (15 generations), though less given the ancestral repetition that occurs after going back 10 generations. Yesterday I gave a projection that if ancestors average 2 children each, which would give the original couple of that generation 4 children, each person would have the same number of descendants after 15 generations. So then multiply each of the 24 Mayflower males x 2 (because they had mates and it’s easier that way than figuring 4 children because the backwards projection is based on couples) then that by 32,758 (assuming non-repetition) and you get 1,572,864. That means each couple averaged way more than 4 children to get to the claimed 35 million descendants.

Myles Standish and his wives had 7 children and 19 grandchildren. I quit counting at 500 when my scrollbar was in the middle of the page, so in the 5 generations listed, there are at least 1000 Standish descendants. The page links say some of the grandchildren are unknown. It’s all also complicated when you figure in the wives who not only bring in different surnames, but mess up the math because you can’t just divide or multiply by 1 or even 2 as couples make individuals who may or may not get married. Only 3 of Myles’ children got married and only 2 of those had kids, but all 7 count. So even with infant mortality and lack of mates for the Pilgrims, population boomed.