Thursday, November 19, 2009

Movie Review: The Human Family Tree

The Human Family Tree
by National Geographic
DVD

Surpise! We're all related! Hey cousin!

This National Geographic documentary is one of the most fascinating I have ever watched! Researchers with the National Geographic and IBM sponsored Genographic Project, DNA-tested 200 individuals chosen randomly at a street fair in Queens, NY. Queens was chosen because it is the most ethnically diverse community in the United States.

Tracing our paternal ancestry backward, all humans descend from a man geneticists have dubbed "Adam," who lived in East Africa 60,000 years ago. In fact, all humans lived in Africa until then. Strangely, "Eve," or rather "mitochondrial-Eve," did not live at the same time as "Adam." She lived in the same general area in East Africa, but about 150,000-200,000 years ago. She is the most recent ancestor to all humans following the maternal line.

Modern genetics can now demonstrate all humans are all relatives. We are 99.9% the same, genetically speaking. The biological reality is, there are no races. To claim that there are races requires making arbitrary distinctions between groups that simply are not reflected in our genetic code. There is too much genetic overlap between groups for any differences to be meaningful.

The film goes on to show which of the major migrations, 10's of thousands of years ago, that each person at the Queens street fair descended from. Interestingly, most Europeans and Native Americans descend from common ancestors in Central Asia, about 40,000 years ago.

I highly recommend this brand new film from National Geographic!

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