Manhattan, New York, is considered one of the most diverse places on earth. Spencer Wells, a geneticist, and his team take DNA from people in Queens, NY, and find that people from many countries are there at a street fair. National Geographic and IBM, as part of the Genographic Project, collected DNA from 350,000 people from around the world to better understand where we came from.

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We descend from Homo sapiens in Africa more than 200,000 years ago. From the group of people in Queens, one person from Asia, Africa or America, can be traced to a country of their origin. The project assumes that all men share a Y chromosome DNA from a man in Africa and that mothers share Mitochondria which are “holdovers to ancient ancestors” (“Mitochondria” n.p.) Babies share 99.9% of DNA from babies from hundreds of thousands of years ago. This research is based on “markers” which means someone can share DNA.

Researching a tribe in Africa, scientist say that 150,000 years ago, the first branch of the human family tree was formed, with a split in DNA. The climate at this point in history, humans were almost extinct due to draught. The video studies various markers, including one that traces ancestors of current Asians to 40,000 years ago in Africa as those may have been the first group of humans to leave Africa because of severe climate changes. Asians would have lost their African marker as new generations came about.

The researchers can also trace why some people today do not have easily identifiable physical characteristics that determines their ethnicity. When the climate kept shifting thousands of years ago, exposure to sun made a different in skin color. If was also found that half of African American men carry European markers. At the end of the video, you can see people standing on a large map outside and see them move from region to region which shows two groups: those who stayed in Africa and those who left and how 60,000 years ago, both groups melded into one. The conclusion is that we all have some shared markers and DNA that can be traced back to the first humans in Africa.

Works Cited

  • Mitochondria. Citable by Nature Education. n.d. Web. 18 April 2016.