the genographic project

A heap of old magazines were tied up in a pile and ready to be disposed. While passing through the room, I took out this one at the very top, because the cover looked interesting. It was a picture showing the evolution of man. Later back home, I read the whole of this article - it contained some specific words from biology which I had to consult the dictionary, but the overall article was quite interesting - which said how humanity might have evolved in the past and how, starting from Africa, they migrated around the world. It also gave the ancient migratgion routes.

I remember that they had shown a documentary covering a topic like this, some years back but I had missed the show because of elctricity failure.

Here is a small clip, I have typed in from the article:

...... In 1987, Rebecca Cann, one of Wilson's students, applied his insight to a series of specimens taken from peole whose ancestors came from different parts of the world. By analyzing the mutational differences that had accumulated since their mitochondria shared a common ancestor, she was able to construct a matriline (or, perhaps more accurately, a matritree) connecting them. The result was a revelation. Whichever way you drew the tree (statistics not being an exact science, there was more than one solution), its root was unveiled as an African species. But Dr Cann went further. Using estimates of how often mutations appear in mitochondrial DNA (the so called molecular clock), she and Wilson did some matridendrochronology. The result suggests that ll the lines converge on the ovaries of a single woman who lived some 150,000 yeras ago. There was much excited reporting at the time about the discovery and dating of this African "Eve". ......

This is indeed an intellectual story of mankind - and kudos to people who have done such a wonderful job - in finding the possible common mother of people, who even do not know about one another's existence today. I found it more and more interesting to continue the article and later at one point, came across another remarkable statement:

...... And there were few males more alpha in their behaviour than Genghis Khan, a man reported to have had about 500 wives and concubines, not to mention the sexual opportunities that come with conquest. It is probably no coincidence, therfore, that one man in every 12 of those who live within the frontiers of what was once the Mongol empire (and, indeed, one in 200 of all men alive today) have a stretch of DNA on their Y-chromosomes that dates back to the time and birthplace of the great Khan. ...

Hugh? This seems to be such a strange type of science, where such obscure terms like "speculation" is sometimes the basis of calculation. It is such a vague topic even to discuss here, but I could not resist without sharing these two facts published in The Economist of 2005 December end-week.

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