Researchers claim people from all sides of the European continent could share ancestors dating back thousands of years. Their findings came out of a study published in Tuesday's edition of the online journal PLoS Biology.

"What's remarkable about this is how closely everyone is related to each other," said co-author Graham Coop, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

"On a genealogical level, everyone in Europe traces back to nearly the same set of ancestors only a thousand years ago,"

Coop along with fellow co-author Peter Ralph, a professor at the University of Southern California, tracked European lineage back to around 3,000 years ago. The team used the Population Reference Sample database (POPRES) to analyze the genetic sequences of over 2,000 participants.

First cousins of a particular family share grandparents and a long stretch of DNA, but the amount of genomes the two relatives share decreases with each generation.

By examining shorter stretches of DNA, Coop and Ralph were able to find genetic similarities between cousins separated by many generations.

"This was predicted in theory over a decade ago, and we now have concrete evidence from DNA data," Coop added.

The research team found that individuals living as far apart from each other as the United Kingdom and Turkey (approximately 2,000 miles) could be related through ancestors from a thousand years ago.

However, they did report that the degree to which two people can track their lineage depends on the geographical distance between them.

"The overall picture is that everybody is related, and we are looking at only subtle differences between regions," Coop said.

Ralph added that these "subtle local differences" could include demographic shifts and historic migrations.

The team concluded that future research on the subject should include a history of archeology and linguistics to establish a culture's early movements and change.

"These studies need to proceed hand in hand, to form a much fuller picture of history," Coop said.