Large-scale genetic research carried out by Russian and American scientists have proved that contemporary mankind originated from a very small group of people. Common ancestors have been discovered for the entire population of many billions inhabiting all five continents of the Earth: these are two thousand primeval hunters-gatherers who used to live in Africa more than 100,000 years ago. New data has been also obtained about the rates and directions of human beings’ prehistoric evolution, and the way the continents got inhabited.
The research carried out L. A. Zhivotovsky, Doctor of Biology (Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences) jointly with the co-authors from the Standord and California Universities is devoted to the global landscape of human beings’ origination and distribution on the planet. (The research was funded through the grant of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.) Identifying the length and position of all “branches” on our family tree is a worthy challenge to contemporary science!
The researchers have applied the recent achievements of molecular-biological technology which allow to concurrently analyze multiple DNA characteristics of a person. 377 DNA characteristics (markers) of the currently living nations from all the continents - 52 populations from Africa, Europe, Middle, Central and Eastern Asia, Oceania and America - were studied. Studying and comparing genetic characteristics typical of various groups of people, the researchers can learn a lot: not only to establish “family ties” between the nations, but also to determine how long ago the group of people was formed. Judging by the fact whether the “primitive” characteristics are diverse, or on the contrary the characteristic set is limited, the researchers determine whether the nation was numerous at the beginning of its history or originated from a small group of people. Certainly, this is done “by eye”: serious study requires application of contemporary mathematical methods and statistical technology. The theory of evolution today comes down not only to archaeology and genetics, but above all to mathematics.
Sergey Komarov | alfa
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