Blacks, Whites and Asians have different ancestors – and did not come from Africa, claims scientist
Geographer claims the races evolved from different ancestors.
A public claim by a fellow of the prestigious Royal Geographic Society that humans did not all come from Africa — and that blacks, whites and Asians have different ancestors — has been dismissed by world experts as “dangerous”, “wrong” and “racist”.
In a paper widely trumpeted and due for release in book form, Akhil Bakshi, the leader of a recent major scientific expedition supported by India’s prime minister, claims that “Negroid”, “Caucasian” and “Mongoloid” peoples are not only separate races but separate species, having evolved on different continents. Responding to the claims — developed while Bakshi led the Gondwanaland expedition from India to South Africa — Professor Lee Berger, a leading palaeoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, immediately insisted that, there were no fundamental differences between the races and that all humans had the same genetic and physical roots in Africa.
The prevalent scientific theory of modern humans — the “Out of Africa” model — is that they left Africa just 55000 years ago and replaced the last remnants of other ancient hominids living in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
The old biological racial distinctions of “Caucasian”, “Negroid” and “Mongoloid” have recently been abandoned by mainstream scientists — removed, for instance, from the US National Library of Medicine in 2003.
Bakshi has become a self-declared champion of a minority scientific view called “multiregionalism”, which claims that modern humans evolved from separate hominid populations. Hominids encompass all humans and the ancient family of human-like ancestors, including large-brained ancient ancestors and unsuccessful species such as Neanderthals.
However, Bakshi — who has no training as an anthropologist — has linked to this model a theory that these populations evolved according to the genetic material left behind when the prehistoric supercontinents, the northern Laurasia and the southern Gondwanaland, broke up. An influential figure in India, Bakshi is also a filmmaker and author who has led four major scientific expeditions since 1994. Bakshi admitted to the Sunday Times that “some of my points may prove to be wrong, and may be seen as politically incorrect.
He claims indigenous “Negroid” populations occur in places like Australia, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the Andaman Islands not because they moved there from Africa, but because all these land masses were once part of Gondwanaland — and that all evolved separately. Whites, according to Bakshi, are from Laurasia and blacks are from Gondwanaland. He argues that, 60000 years ago, humans could not have crossed vast oceans and deserts to reach remote places like Australia and North America, and they must therefore have evolved there.
“His is a highly confused argument which jumps enormous levels, which are quite impossible to link,” Tobias said.
However, he added that the true picture of modern humanity’s precise departure from Africa was far from clear-cut.
Not all modern humans originated from Africa
What’s previously been taught is that of the 6 billion or so people on the planet, we all share 99.9% of each others genes and identity. These results came from the Human Genome Project 5 years ago and are now assumed to be very much wrong. Today, research was published in the journal Nature and ABC Science News reports that we are genetically more varied than what was once assumed.
The analysis of the genome has been focused mainly on comparing differences, or ‘polymorphisms’, in the patterns of single letters in the chemical code for making and sustaining human life. But now, a group scientists from around the globe have come from a different angle and believe they have uncovered a complex, higher-order variation in the code.
This large difference in code between individuals can now explain why some people are vulnerable to certain diseases and respond well to certain drugs, while others fall sick quickly or never respond to treatment. What the scientists have been doing is digging out deletions or duplications of code among relatively long sequences of individual DNA and then comparing these ‘copy number variations’ across a range of volunteers of diverse ancestry. The researchers were stunned that they were able to locate 1447 copy number variations in nearly 2900 genes, which is about one eighth of the human genetic code.
Dr Matthew Hurles from the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK is one of the project’s partners and says that “Each one of us has a unique pattern of gains and losses of complete sections of DNA. One of the real surprises of these results was just how much of our DNA varies in copy number. We estimate this to be at least 12% of the genome.” The group found that almost 16% of genes that are known to be related to disease have these copy number variations. The diseases involved include rare genetic disorders like DiGeorge (caused by the deletion of a piece of chromosome number 22), Williams-Beuren (otherwise known as ‘Pixieism’) and Prader-Willi syndromes and those linked with schizophrenia, cataracts, spinal muscular atrophy and atherosclerosis. But kidney disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and vulnerability to malaria and HIV, which recent research has blamed on single-letter variations in the gene code, may also well be rooted in CNVs, the scientists believe. Consequences of this recent research could benefit medical diagnosis and new drugs.
What is DNA?
DNA is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions for the biological development of a cellular form of life or a virus. All known cellular life and some viruses have DNAs. DNA is a long polymer of nucleotides (a polynucleotide) that encodes the sequence of amino acid residues in proteins, using the genetic code. DNA is responsible for the genetic propagation of most inherited traits. In humans, these traits range from hair color to disease susceptibility. The genetic information encoded by an organism’s DNA is called its genome.