viernes, 5 de febrero de 2016

There is only one race, the human race

There is only one race, the human race

Africa is a continent that is big, joyful, generous, enthusiastic and optimistic. Harambee tells its stories: from its love of life and family, to people who have withstood great odds to stories of innovation achieved with limited resources. Our partner is Harambee Africa International, a Rome-based NGO. We want to hear from you. Contact Eugene Ohu, the editor, at


There is only one race, the human race
comment print |       

The ancient origins, anatomical, linguistic and genetic distinctiveness of southern African San and Khoikhoi people are matters of confusion and debate. They are variously described as the world’s first or oldest people; Africa’s first or oldest people, or the first people of South Africa.

They are in fact two evolutionarily related but culturally distinct groups of populations that have occupied southern Africa for up to 140,000 years. Their first-people status is due to the fact that they commonly retain genetic elements of the most ancient Homo sapiens.

This conclusion is based on evidence from specific types of DNA. This evidence also demonstrates that other sub-Saharan human populations retain genetic bits and pieces of DNA from non-KhoiSan primordial humans. These pre-date their out-of-Africa colonisation of the balance of the world.

What is important in the debate on the origins of, and diversity among, population groups of Homo sapiens is to establish what cannot, and should not, be derived from the various DNA evidence used to support the KhoiSan-as-first-people hypothesis.

This is that the KhoiSan, or any other groups of humans, can be assigned to evolutionarily meaningful “races” – or subspecies in biological classification.

The DNA evidence, if interpreted incorrectly, could be used to support the findings of “scientific” racial anthropologists such as Carleton S. Coon.

As recently as 1962, Coon “recognised” the KhoiSan as the Capoid race. He based this on the distinctive anatomical features of the Capoids from those he used to designate the Congoid race. These include golden brown rather than sepia-coloured skin, the presence of epicanthic eye folds, prominent cheekbones and steatopygia.

But, if correctly interpreted, the scientific evidence points quite to the contrary.

Human evolution cannot be drawn like a tree

If one were to compare the entire DNA genomes from representatively sampled human populations from around the world, the resulting relationships would look more like an evolutionarily reticulated chain-link fence. In other words, a network rather than a tree. This applies to even purportedly racially important anatomical features.

This is because human population groups worldwide are highly homogeneous (99.5% similar) genetically and their anatomical features vary in an uncorrelated fashion over the landscape.

These groups are, in evolutionary terms, very recent entities that have no biological or taxonomic significance.

The DNA evidence used to discover the human genetic “footprints” that characterise the KhoiSan, and other diverging populations, is today easily put together. Forensic pathologists use it to determine an unidentifiable corpse’s population group. This process has been popularised on television shows such as CSI and Bones.

This DNA evidence comes from:

  • Y chromosome polymorphisms inherited without recombination along male lineages;
  • single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, from nuclear DNA; and
  • most especially from mitochondrial DNA.
Mitochondria are organelles within a cell that have their own independent DNA separate from that in the nucleus that determines an organism’s external appearance and physiology. They are involved with cellular respiration and nothing more.

Mitochondrial DNA allows the detection of direct genetically “ungarbled” connections among evolutionarily evolved human population groups. This is because a component of it evolves much faster than the bulk of nuclear DNA. Also, mitochondrial DNA is inherited maternally and is thus not intermixed with paternal DNA during reproduction.

Some evolutionary genetic anthropologists ignore the overwhelming balance of evidence that there is no evolutionarily significant racial variation in either genes or anatomy. Instead they focus on these very few bits and pieces of DNA that, in evolutionary terms, change rapidly. This way they reach distorted conclusions about discernible “races” within the human species.

Why there is only one race

Recent DNA results used to detect human population genetic “footprints” is summarised in: Humanity’s forgotten return to Africa revealed in DNA.

The story it tells is as follows. About 140,000 years ago human populations from East or Central Africa moved southwards and “colonise” western southern Africa. The probable nearest living relatives of these source populations are:

This migration gave rise to the present-day San hunter-gatherers.

Much more recently – about 2000 years ago – there was a second movement of “colonists” from the north into southwestern Africa. They gave rise to the pastoral Khoikhoi people.

This second group of “settlers” carried within its genome bits of Eurasian-sourced – and even some Neanderthal – DNA derived from European humans who had returned to Africa about 3000 years ago.

Subsequent to this second colonisation, there was intermixing between the Khoikhoi and San. This gave rise to their close anatomical similarities despite the fact that they retained their marked cultural and linguistic differences.

Much more recently – about 1700 years ago – there was a third major north-to-south migration. This time it was the Bantu-speaking, black Africans into south-eastern Africa. Those “settlers” that eventually became the Xhosa peoples moved westwards and encountered the Khoikhoi, whom they drove further west and intermixed with genetically.

So, it is now possible for genetic evolutionary “anthropologists” to distinguish population differences among humans to infer the timing of their movements throughout the globe.

It is even possible to map one’s genetic “ancestry”, as South African President Nelson Mandela did, indicating that he possessed some KhoiSan DNA.

The important point is that this evidence should not be used to assert that these differences, or shared bits of “ancient” DNA, support the identification of multiple human “races”. In fact, it confirms the wise assertion by the pan-Africanist leader, Robert Sobukwe, that there was only one race: the human race.

The Conversation

Tim Crowe, Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article
- See more at:


By default, I am largely ignorant of the world of Star Wars, but the enthusiasm of people with good taste leads me to think that I may one day set myself to watch the series. Meanwhile, I am happy to prepare myself (being something of a dunce at interpreting sci-fi) by reading articles like the one we have published today by Dr Jordan Ballor, a research fellow at the Acton Institute. It begins:
“You cannot deny the truth that is your family.” Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) speaks these prophetic lines to Kylo Ren, the master of the Knights of Ren and the main villain in the latest installment of the Star Wars film franchise, The Force Awakens. Ren’s violent response to Tekka’s words underscores the fundamental dynamic that appears throughout the films.
Interesting, don't you think?
Enjoy your weekend. It's a long one here in NZ with a holiday on Monday commemorating the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. It's our national day, but never without a bit of controversy -- this time our government's signing (and hosting of same) of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Maori in particular see it as undermining Treaty rights and there have been very noisy protests here this week. Perhaps they are correct, but then it is hard for a nation of less than 5 million people at the bottom of the world to live in the style to which we aspire without doing trade deals with more populous countries. Of course the TPP has to be ratified by 12 countries yet, so we won't hold our breath.

Carolyn Moynihan 
Deputy Editor, 

The Family and the Force
Jordan J. Ballor | FEATURES | 5 February 2016
The Star Wars narrative invokes dynamics of familial love.
Belgian artist fights to be recognised as king’s daughter
Michael Cook | FEATURES | 5 February 2016
Truth is more important than legal status.
There is only one race, the human race
Tim Crowe | HARAMBEE | 5 February 2016
How the origin of Southern Africa's KhoiSan tells us this.
‘I’ve changed my mind’: a gay activist reverses stand on wedding cake row
Carolyn Moynihan | CONJUGALITY | 5 February 2016
Discrimination against people should be unlawful, but not against ideas.
The internet: Privacy fights back
Denyse O'Leary | CONNECTING | 5 February 2016
Thngs are worse than we thought. But is Privategrity the answer?
Global inequality grows
Marcus Roberts | DEMOGRAPHY IS DESTINY | 5 February 2016
The 62 richest people have as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion
MERCATORNET | New Media Foundation 

Suite 12A, Level 2, 5 George Street, North Strathfied NSW 2137, Australia 

Designed by elleston

New Media Foundation | Suite 12A, Level 2, 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | AUSTRALIA | +61 2 8005 8605

No hay comentarios: