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Thread: About that race thing - the Big picture

  1. #1
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    About that race thing - the Big picture

    Hello all,

    Here is a summary of the results from the National Geographic 2.0 Human Genetics Project: ENJOY

    Quotes from the National Geographic:

    On the human genome:
    + In June 2000, when the results were announced at a White House ceremony, Craig Venter, a pioneer of DNA sequencing, observed, “The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.”

    Many genes affect how melanin colors human skin. The genes predate humanity; some occur in mice and fish.
    Variations in four of them—mutations that flip a gene from darkening to lightening or vice versa—explain much of the skin-color diversity in Africa. As our ancestors spread across the Earth, different mutations proved beneficial at different latitudes and were passed on.

    In humans, as in all species, genetic changes are the result of random mutations—tiny tweaks to DNA, the code of life. Mutations occur at a more or less constant rate, so the longer a group persists, handing down its genes generation after generation, the more tweaks these genes will accumulate. Meanwhile, the longer two groups are separated, the more distinctive tweaks they will acquire.

    That’s because modern humans originated in Africa and have lived there the longest. They’ve had time to evolve enormous genetic diversity—which extends to skin color. Researchers who study it sometimes use Africa’s linguistic diversity—it has more than 2,000 languages (see map below)—as a guide. Photographer Robin Hammond followed their lead, visiting five representative language communities. His portraits span the color spectrum from Neilton Vaalbooi (top left in photo grid above), a Khoe-San boy from South Africa, to Akatorot Yelle (bottom right), a Turkana girl from Kenya. “There is no homogeneous African race,” says geneticist Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania. “It doesn’t exist.” The prehistoric humans who left Africa some 60,000 years ago—giving rise over time to the other peoples of the world—reflected only a fraction of Africa’s diversity.

    All non-Africans today, the genetics tells us, are descended from a few thousand humans who left Africa maybe 60,000 years ago. These migrants were most closely related to groups that today live in East Africa, including the Hadza of Tanzania. Because they were just a small subset of Africa’s population, the migrants took with them only a fraction of its genetic diversity.

    Somewhere along the way, perhaps in the Middle East, the travelers met and had sex with another human species, the Neanderthals; farther east they encountered yet another, the Denisovans. It’s believed that both species evolved in Eurasia from a hominin that had migrated out of Africa much earlier. Some scientists also believe the exodus 60,000 years ago was actually the second wave of modern humans to leave Africa. If so, judging from our genomes today, the second wave swamped the first.

    In what was, relatively speaking, a great rush, the offspring of all these migrants dispersed around the world. By 50,000 years ago they had reached Australia. By 45,000 years ago they’d settled in Siberia, and by 15,000 years ago they’d reached South America. As they moved into different parts of the world, they formed new groups that became geographically isolated from one another and, in the process, acquired their own distinctive set of genetic mutations.
    Last edited by Lancer; 06-16-2020 at 05:11 PM.

  2. #2
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    You realize this article is 20 years old, right? A lot has happened in the last two decades. There is deep structure in the modern human part of the gene pool going back at least 200,000 years, not to even speak of the archaic ancestry in the mix. And even though the overall differences between populations might be small, the differences that do exist might involve large-effect variants which control phenotypic expressions we find important.

    People get too hung up on the race concept; scrap it if you want. The important thing to remember is that there is structure in humans. Looking only at genetic results, you will never ever confuse a Swahili for an Australian aborigine for a Greek. Ever. That is all by itself an informative observation, regardless of whether you think it's worthwhile to categorize the diversity that exists into arbitrary races.
    Ελευθερία ή θάνατος.

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