A new study found that those who are born to parents with diverse genetic backgrounds are highly likely to grow taller and smarter than those whose parents have closely-linked genes. The big international research highlights that the people of today may be able to fare better than their predecessors, in terms of height and thinking abilities, as more people marry individuals from other nations.

The researchers from the University of Edinburgh conducted the study by analyzing more than 100 different investigations performed across the globe. The study subjects of these studies involved approximately 350,000 individuals settling in both urban and rural areas.

The researchers particularly looked in to the differences of the genes based on genome data and compared them with 16 biomedical traits including height and cognitive skills. The entire genetic composition of the subjects was also investigated and through this, the researchers were able to identify those who have inherited genes that are identical to one another, suggesting that their predecessors were of the same descent. The researchers were able to detect few cases of this identical gene inheritance, indicating that there is a greater population of subjects that have genetic diversity.

The findings of the study published in the journal Nature showed that those who exhibited increased genetic diversity and that whose parents lived distantly from one another have notable increase in four traits, which include height, cognitive skills, educational achievement and lung capacity. The researchers also found that genetic diversity do not contribute to an individual's increased risk of developing complex medical conditions such as diabetes and heart problems. This then refutes previous concepts theorizing that close family relationships may increase the likelihood of an individual to develop such medical diseases.

"Our research answers questions first posed by Darwin as to the benefits of genetic diversity," says Dr Peter Joshi, first author of the study from the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute. "Our next step will be to hone in on the specific parts of the genome that most benefit from diversity."

"This study highlights the power of large-scale genetic analyses to uncover fundamental information about our evolutionary history," adds Dr Jim Wilson, co-author, who is also from the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute.

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