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NONE Introduction and Summary The documentary, The Human Family Tree, sponsored by National Geographic Channel, describes the results of DNA testing on an ethnically and racially divers group of hundreds of people in Queens, New York, and compares the results of similar testing on 350,000 people worldwide…
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Download file to see previous pages The only differences are occasional random changes called markers, some of which such as the Y chromosomes are passed on from father to son, while others are passed on from mother to daughter. Human life is considered to have begun in east Africa, and over thousands of years population movements around the world caused by recurring ice ages, periods of drought, and the rising and lowering of sea levels, which for example turned islands into contiguous land masses over which people migrated. Sometimes population would split and move off in different directions, with one group possibly carrying with them a marker causing a slight difference in genetic makeup than the other group. More recently population movements have tended to be caused more by economic and political conditions rather than by climatic shifts. It is unclear from the documentary how the timetable for the various population movements was arrived at, but the extraction of DNA confirming the discovery of the body of English King Richard shows that DNA can be preserved for many years after death suggests that possibly DNA was obtained from well preserved human remains as well as from people currently alive. In any event, the notion that severe climatic changes could cause population to split with one group carrying a slightly different marker than the other, makes sense to me even if the timetable may be somewhat inaccurate. The documentary traces the genetic history of specific people tested in the Queen experiment and determines their ancestry through their particular markers to population movements thousands of years ago. It concludes with a creative and graphic illustration of the population movements throughout history. People in the Queens experiment were divided into 5 groups ( to represent population groups) in a park and were reunited with each other to represent population movements until there was only one representing the effect of modern globalization. Therefore while in the distant past population groups have split and branched out, more recently to a great extent they have reunited. The documentary makes a strong case that differences, for example in skin color, are not caused by genetic variation but by evolutionary adaptation. For example, apparently there was a population movement of a black group from east Africa to Asia. Even though their genetic makeup is similar to the original African group, they now have lighter skin. Although it takes thousands of years to change, this seems to confirm the notion that darker skin is an evolutionary adaptation to a hot dry climate which over time will become lighter in a cold one rather than being due to a genetic variation. The central point of the documentary is that while people of the world may differ significantly in skin color, at least genetically inside we are very much alike even with the presence of markers. Therefore race has no biological basis but is actually a social construction invented by people such as the Europeans to describe people in other parts of the world they encountered who had different skin tone than they did. Sometimes however, as Hitler did with the Jewish ethnic group, the dominant group can ascribe inferior racial status to the despised group even though their skin color is similar. This is called racialization and in Hitler’s case was promoted by attempting to differentiate by pseudo scientifically encouraging the breeding of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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