Recent scientific expeditions that have retraced all routes of human migration out of Africa in the last 50,000 years make for a fascinating story. In the exhibit perused for this exercise I discovered that the pivotal moment was the great Ice Age that set in 50 thousand years ago, up until when, the rich and diverse ecology of central and southern Africa began to change. With the substantial drop in temperatures, the erstwhile green and fertile regions began to dry up. And this crisis for survival is perhaps the most important event in anthropology.
The populating of the Australian continent is a tantalizing story of adventure and chance. Scientists were first confounded by the 6000 mile of ocean that separated the East African coast from the nearest shore in Australia. Later it came to light that the radically new geological conditions created by the Ice Age provided an easy passage wherever the sea had receded. Likewise the crossing of the arctic inhabiting Chikchu people into the New World is another historical achievement of our species. The Americans who are newly native to this expansive continent nearly covered its entire breadth and width in less than a millennia of its advent. Modern Europeans took a complex migratory route to arrive at Western Europe. The lore of the Cro-Magnon man is very prescient to the mind as they conquered the temperate and cold climes of Europe with a physiology that was ill suited to these conditions. A branch of my own ancestors traversed the central Asian steppes to populate what is modern day China and South East Asia. Since I inherit a mix of Chinese and Indonesian genetic stock, it is accurate to claim that my ancestors comprised two different groupings – those who took the Steppes and the other the route of the Indian subcontinent.
The most important insight I got through the study of the exhibits is how we all are united by our similarities. Be it the aborigines of Australia, the indigenous populations of Madurai in Southern India, the Bushmen tribes of South Africa or the Chikchu of the Siberian extremity, we all share nearly the same genetic makeup. The differences among us are only a matter of minor genetic differences. We all share the same instinct for survival. We also share the inclination for adventure, discovery, creativity and adaptation. It is these shared features that accounts for the continued success of our species.
Race: Human Variation, retrieved from http://www.understandingrace.org/humvar/index.html on 19th February 2014.
Lauren Arenson, Lecture on Racial Genetic Variation, Pasadena City College, retrieved from < http://www.pasadena.edu/streaming/arenson/arenson1/index.cfm> on 19th February 2014.