Genetic Clusters February 28, 2009Posted by ethnicgenome in Genetics (General).
Tags: dna, ethnic group, ethnicity, genes, genetic clusters, race, races
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This is so important that I decided to make a special page and place it at the top. Were I writing a book, the following information would’ve been chapter one.
Liberal Lysenkoists who deny evolution (or at least claim that all evolution magically ended in human beings 100,000 years ago and humans stopped genetically adjusting to their environment) tell us to believe them and not “our lying eyes” when it comes to the existence of races. According to them, races don’t exist because there is no one gene for a particular race (the same rationale is given to argue that sexes also don’t exist).
Of course there would be no gene for race. What purpose would that serve? To mark someone as deserving to get affirmative action?
One must understand how races (and species) develop.
At first, there was just one little thing that was able to reproduce itself. It was the original gene, the original form of life. Slowly it multiplied and spread. Under different evolutionary pressures, the new organisms developed differently.
Eventually there were enough differences that different populations could be classified as different species. Species don’t have a genetic mark that says, “dog”, “cat” or “monkey”. There are just differences and if differences are large enough, we classify populations as being members of different species.
Sometimes species would separate from one another. If the separation lasted long enough, such as between chimps, gorillas, humans and other apes, new species emerge. But if the genetic separation isn’t as long, other classifications emerge. Among dogs, we would call those groups breeds. In humans, we call them races.
There are other classifications of life, of course: Genus, (Biological) Family, Order, (Biological) Class, Phylum, (Biological) Kingdom, Domain. That will not be a major concern of my writing as I will focus strictly on human beings.
When some humans left Africa, they faced different pressures than before. Dark skin was no longer an advantage but rather a disadvantage. In Northern Asia during the Ice Age, it was advantageous to have a layer of fat spread evenly throughout the body, so the Mongoloid people acquired this quality, giving them a yellowish color, though their skin is itself not significantly different from that of Caucasians.
Slowly but surely populations adjusted to their evolutionary pressures. Nobody acquired a genetic stamp for their race. But what they did get is a set of qualities, what scientists call a genetic cluster.
It is true that you cannot look at one gene and know the person’s race and ethnicity. But you can look at a cluster of genes and tell with certainty what race the person is, and within the race, what is the person’s ethnic group and at times even what part of the country his ancestors lived in.
Without getting too technical with scientific explanations (those will come later, but I am just trying to establish the basics for now), you can think of genetic clusters in the following manner: curly hair does not in and of itself prove that the person is black. A person of any race, and in particular a Caucasoid, could have curly hair. A Caucasoid may have thick lips and even somewhat dark skin. Any one of these does not prove the person to be black. But when you see that a person’s hair is curly, his lips are thick, his skin is dark, his bone, cranial and dental structure is like most other blacks, and so on, so forth for hundreds and even thousands of different qualities, you realize that the person can only be someone of African descent. You know this just by looking at a person. Geneticists know this by looking at a person’s DNA.
Any single quality doesn’t prove the person to be of a particular race, but hundreds of qualities create an unmistakable cluster where even if the person is different from his race in one or two ways (such as an albino African who has light skin), we can still know the exact race of the person.
Similarly with genes: any gene could potentially be found in any population. But a cluster of genes will give you a certain answer.
Within each race, there are further divisions. White Scandinavians are different from white Mediterraneans. A further division is again possible: Scandinavians who are ethnic Norwegians are somewhat different from ethnic Swedes.
The closer one gets, the less differences one sees. Thus, Swedes may be different from Norwegians, but not as much as they are different from Italians. And the differences with Italians are less than the differences with Koreans. The differences with Koreans are less than with Zulus.
The reason is the time of separation into different groups (the later the separation, the fewer differences) and the amount of gene flow back and forth.
Whites separated from Asians later than from Blacks, so the differences aren’t as stark when it comes to everything from skin color to IQ.
So why are races determined at a particular level?
For one, races have common ancestors much later with each other than with other races. All humans descended from one woman who lived 140,000 years ago. This is what makes us part of the same specie.
All Caucasoids – Europeans, North Africans and Middle Easterners – descended from 7 women who lived 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. This is what makes all Caucasoids part of the same race.
Almost half of Ashkenazi Jews came from 4 women who lived in the last 1,000 years. This is what makes them part of not only the same ethnic group (the Jews), but the same group (Ashkenazim) within their ethnicity.
It is obvious that people who have a joint descendant 1,000 years ago will exist fewer differences among themselves than they would with a person with whom they share an ancestor all of 140,000 years ago. I will explain this in great detail in the future for those who are unconvinced.
The second explanation is that ethnic groups of the same race tended to live in relative proximity to each other, which allowed for some gene flow. While the European gene flow into the Ashkenazi Jewish community was only 0.5% per generation until the 20th century, European Jews still wound up with an average of 40% Gentile genes. Whether through marriage or rape by invading soldiers, ethnic groups mixed. Germany, for instance, invaded Russia in 1941 and proceeded to rape and have sex the local women. Four years later, the Soviet troops were in Germany, raping and having sex with the local women. This exchange of genetic material is as long as mankind, probably even longer.
There was some inter-racial mixing too, but nowhere near as much, with exception of places such as the United States where almost all descendants of slaves have at least some Caucasian blood.
Therefore, the greatest differences are from race to race. One for example may mistake a Swede for a Norwegian, or in some cases a Swede for Jew, but neither a Swede, nor a Norwegian, nor a Jew, nor any other Caucasoid may ever be mistaken for a Zulu, even if the Zulu is an albino and the Swede/Norwegian/Jew has curly hair.
Likewise, a Zulu may be mistaken for a Shona or a Kikuyu, but never for a Korean.
The existence of biracial or biethnic people does not disprove the existence of races and ethnic groups. If you mix a German Sheppard and a large Poodle, the result will be a mixed breed dog. It will not, however, prove that dog breeds don’t exist. The same is true for human races.
Just as genetic clusters can prove that you are a member of one race, they can prove that you are a member of multiple races or multiple ethnicities.
This is an oversimplified explanation, but one that should serve as an introduction. In my future entries, I will explain what the specific differences are, which haplogroups are associated with which ethnic and racial groups, and other information that will fill in any blanks left out in this introduction.
But for now just remember: just because there’s no one gene for race, does not mean that races don’t exist. There is no one gene for any given specie, and that doesn’t mean that we as humans are no different from gorillas and tigers. It’s not one gene, it’s many genes.
Races developed not because one magic gene popped up inside your body, but because of tens of thousands of years of evolution made you different from a person whose ancestors lived on another continent. And it is those differences, taken together, that make you part of your race, your ethnicity and your sex.