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  • Imagine having so many children, you could run a factory.

  • That's what Moulay Ismail's family looked like.

  • He was a brutal emperor of the Moroccan Alaouite Dynasty from 1672 to 1727, and he was reported to have had at least 1,171 children.

  • But he wasn't the only one who used his power to sleep with hundreds of women, whether they were interested or not.

  • Other rulers like Augustus the Strong, and Genghis Khan had hundreds of children, and while these were some of the more ruthless rulers of their time, it raises a more fundamental scientific question. [How many children can a human have in a lifetime?]

  • Women can reproduce for about half their lifetime and can only give birth about once every year or so, so it makes sense that women can only have a fraction as many children as men.

  • One study estimated that women can have around 15 pregnancies in a lifetime, and depending on how many babies she gives birth to at a time, a woman can probably have around 15 to 30 children max.

  • But the most prolific mother ever, according to Guinness World Records, was Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev in 19th-century Russia.

  • She is said to have given birth to 69 children over 27 pregnancies.

  • That's a lot for one woman, but that's nothing compared to our friend from earlier, Moulay Ismail.

  • According to records, he had four wives and 500 women in his harem.

  • But there are factors that not even an emperor can control, like how a man's sperm becomes less mobile and more abnormal as he grows older, which ultimately reduces his chances of fathering children later in life.

  • In fact, studies suggest that men over 50 have an up to 38% lower chance of impregnating a woman compared to men under 30.

  • For Ismail, he fathered most of his children relatively young, so by age 57, he had an estimated 1,171 kids.

  • But he wasn't the only man in history with tons of progeny.

  • Augustus the Strong was king of 18th-century Poland, and he had a long distance relationship with his wife.

  • So, of course that didn't stop him from fathering a rumored 370 children by mistresses.

  • And Genghis Khan, notorious for conquering large areas of 13th-century Asia, is estimated to have had between 1,000 and 2,000 children.

  • In fact, by tracking types of Y chromosomes, scientists estimate that up to 16 million men today, who live in regions that Khan conquered, could have been descendants of him or his close male relatives.

  • But did these men really reach their maximum human possibility?

  • Turns out the records on Ismail only spanned 32 years of his life.

  • By one calculation, he really could have had hundreds more.

  • If you compare that to men in more modern times, the most prolific fathers today have about 200 children.

  • That's nowhere near 1,171, and honestly, it's probably for the best.

Imagine having so many children, you could run a factory.

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How Many Children Can A Human Have In A Lifetime?

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    Liang Chen posted on 2021/08/06
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