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Marker Genes

Updated on December 14, 2014

Genetic Diversity in Cultural Groups

Understanding the function of genes has allowed for cultural diversity and genetic markers in human populations to be explained and understood. But not everyone has an interest in this scientific breakthrough. This may be because of religious or political dominance which presents a different debate or because they just cannot get their heads around the technical side of the genes issue..

It also boils down to evolution versus instantaneous creation and the book of Geneses in the Bible versus the microscope and fossils. The earth record of past species of both human and animals, not mentioned in religious books, has opened a can of worms that may eventually lead to a wake-up call on how we are treating our planet and just why we are destroying all life forms on it, including ourselves.

For simplicity sake this lens will take the easy option of looking at just some of the most prominent markers and explaining how they came about. It follows their path down through successive generations and some migratory patterns. Hopefully too it will enlighten everyone who has not understood it before to now embrace this side of life.

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white/black skin
white/black skin

White Skin from Black

The transformation

If the expectations that humans evolved from African regions, where the earliest species have been found, are correct we may assume that they initially had black skin. So how does black skin turn into white skin.

My research into genetic markers was exciting and following traits through climate change and cultural practices was more than fascinating to say the least. The ability of different life forms to adapt to change is the key to knowing where we came from and how we altered in appearance, habits and methodologies. To understand this lets go back to Africa and the beginning of diversity.

It doesn't matter about the color of your skin when it comes to brainpower and adaptation. Behavior is much the same throughout the homo (human) species. But Homo sapiens are not the only such group. In fact there are some four or five other human species that we now know about. The most famous of these is Homo Neanderthal. It is this group that has had the most attention because their migrations can be traced through the Sinai region into Europe, where many remains have been unearthed. But we know they also went east as far down as the southeast regions of Asia and possibly into Indonesia.

Recently a new group of humans has been unearthed in Indonesia. They are called Pygmy because of their small status. The tallest skeleton may have been no more than a meter high. The famous skeleton of Lucy, found in the Rift Valley, suggests another species called Australopithecus afarensis. She walked upright but bears many characteristics of chimpanzees. She may have predated homo species but her characteristics led to understanding how diversification came about.

During her time she consumed nuts, fruit, vegetation and possibly meat. While she resembled the chimpanzee in facial features it is considered that she probably had not yet taken to new forms of hunting and, therefore, changes her diet.

But not long after her another form of afarensis, closely resembling Lucy, has come to light. The cranium is bigger and there is a distinct change in facial features that has led to some speculation that members of this group changed their diet.

Do You Believe in Evolution

While science has produced fossils and remnants of past societies, from some hundreds of thousands of years ago, there are those who would favor instantaneous creation. So if God waved a magic wand and everything simply appeared from now where say 6000 years ago where did God come from and why was the world not created sooner. How too did all the fossils and evidence get into place and what is the point of them now.

Did the world suddenly appear say 6000 years ago, according to the bible

Reconstuction of A. afarensis
Reconstuction of A. afarensis

Diet and Facial Features

This image of A.Afarensis is from Wikipedia and is open source. It highlights some important aspects that help determine the evolution of homo species.

Unlike apes the face is elongated with the jaw receded rather like that of later homo species.The big toes are almost completely aligned as in the normal human foot, whereas that of chimpanzees by comparison are more like a human hand, This is for grasping limbs while swinging in trees. There have been changes to the hips as the legs now point forward rather than to the side.

The forearms are also shorter than chimps and the hand more like that of a homo species. These things suggest that this creature has become a ground dweller and is using his hands for grasping things such as tools and smaller obstacles than tree branches. His legs are also suggestive of a forward thrust gait rather than a swinging motion. There is, however, enough evidence in this image to prove that evolution was the primary factor in the arrival of humans.

Scientific evidence also shows how diet played a major role in changes to the skeleton and facial features. Thanks to carbon dating and other resources we can pinpoint the type of food available and the tools found in relation to such creatures demonstrate their lifestyle and hunting techniques. There are other factors available also which demonstrate that meat eaters were emerging among these early homo forms.

Recent studies (reference unavailable) that have come to my attention demonstrate that this species was digging in the soil for roots, bulbs and insects and had also taken to fishing and consuming seafood, not done by chimpanzees. They were also building ground shelters out of wood and skins, which means they hunted game. Shelters were necessary to replace the trees as they moved onto the plains leaving them exposed to predators and the weather while their fur covering was somewhat reduced.

The consumption of better protein and more of it would eventually lead to a larger brain and more intelligence which preceded the formation of a voice box and structured speech. The brain size is measurable in craniums that have been located in association with both the time and place of their emergence.

It is interesting to note that the skin of the beast depicted is light colored, suggesting that white skin may have also evolved along a certain line of descent. But if that were the case where did black skin come from?

Do You Follow the argument for Evolution - Or do you oppose it

Is the idea of humans evolving from more primitive creatures something you relate to

Tracing Human Evolution

A comprehensive lecture following the progress of human evolution through several sources. If you are going to understand that humans evolved from primates then you need to be informed so stay with this lecture to gain that insight.

Do You Believe in God?

If there is no divine power than we must adhere to the argument that everything on earth was created from chaos and possibly a big bang. But if that happened why is the universe in such good order and why do the seasons connected to the climate and environmen?. For instance, prior to spring the winds come to blow off the old dead leaves and branches from trees so that the new stuff can grown. During summer fruits and other foods are produced in abundance to feed everyone and much of this can be stored for use over non growing periods.

Is there a divine power behind creation and evolution?

Gaze upon The Orangutan and Deny Evolution If you Can

One of the first things to note about this creature is that it has no tail, nor do any African or Asian Apes. Only South American apes have tails. This would have been one of the first adaptations on the road towards human evolution. But we have a remnant of the tail in the coccyx, or tailbone. This supports the theory that humans came out of Africa.

The orangutan and other apes can also walk upright. But this animal is reasonably close to a human in every way, which is why many people want to adopt them as babies and rear them as their own children. That has resulted in many mothers being shot in the jungle and their babies snatched to satisfy this market, many of whom do not survive the trauma.

IIntelligence is another factor that links humans to apes.

While their brain size is not as big as humans they have a higher sense of memory and learning abilities than most other animals. They use tools, for instance, build shelters and nest, have adapted to different food types, for example they can make a straw into a dipping tool whereby they pull termites out of their nests and eat them, and they eat meat, such as monkeys and even cannibalise their own kind. They are often observed hunting in packs to achieve these results. These are all the traits seen in humans as well.

Tracing Migration

Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthal were inhabitants of Europe and evidence shows that Neanderthal arrived there first. They migrated as far north as Siberia and as far east as parts of Asia but it was H.Sapies who superseded them. Many scientists believe the latter were more successful at inhabiting the continent and that could be the truth behind their success. there is another school of thought that climate warming killed off the H. Neanderthal who were more suited to cold conditions.

It appears that H.Neanderthal built shelters out of skins and were probably fur coated themselves, thus allowing them to survive in the colder climates of the north. H.Sapiens, on the other hand, inhabited mainly the southern Mediterranean areas and pushed east into south-east Asia and finally into Australia. As the globe warmed at the end of the last ice age climatic conditions altered.

H.Sapiens are known to have inhabited caves as their primary shelter. They also took to wearing skins as clothing suggesting they were not fur covered, or at least not as much as H.Neanderthals. They also had developed light, mainly in the form of oil lamps and they recorded their images on walls of caves and rocks. That gives us a good glimpse into their lifestyle and survival.

With global warming at the end of the ice age it is thought that H.Neanderthals were trapped in regions like the Sinai and Northern Europe and died out as a result. At the time of their inhabiting the eastern Asian region Humanity was also making their way through the area. Remains of both species have been found in caves and elsewhere suggesting cohabitation without sexual contact. More recent studied, however, suggest their was some interbreeding and that some humans carry their genes.

In Europe certain things happened to the facial features of early humans, which I examined during my archaeology degree. The cooler air resulted in a narrower nose, as it was important to warm it before entering the lungs. Confinement for months on end in caves led to a lightening of the skin and loss of melanin in both the skin and the eyes but, as we see from above white skin might have been an inherited trait. This meant that human ancestors got sun burnt if exposed to it for long periods. This further necessitated their need for shelter and a change in lifestyle. Clothing, often manufactured from grass, served two purposes. It protected them from the sun and the weather and it hastened the loss of body hair which remains now only on the head and in the pubic areas.

H. Neanderthal, on the other hand, did not evolve the narrow nose nor lose their body fur so when the climate warmed they were stressed. Also as the climate changed their traditional food sources disappeared. They could not adapt to the new conditions and it is thought that this is why they died out.

Tracing humans across Europe other features appeared. due mainly to the glare of the sun. Eyelids, for instance, are essential to shade the eyes but in colder regions, such as in norther Asia, the double eyelids were lost. The cheek bones raised higher and wider in the face area to accommodate the warming of air to the lungs and these are markers that prove the migratory patterns from west to east into Russia, Northern China and then into Japan.

In the south these features were unnecessary so those in southern Asia remained more like their cousins in the west. There is a distinct difference even today between the people of say Cambodia and those of Northern China and Japan.

Do You think that Humans interbred with Neanderthals?

Many humans do carry features suggesting they may have Neanderthal genes. Such as the large orbits over the eyes or the protruding chin. There are also females who produce facial hair, which has never truly been lost.

Is there a genetic link, therefore, between the 2 species?

Markers Point The Way

There are no tribes in the human genome

One of the hardest things for humans to escape is that of genetic differences in certain cultures. Basically, however, we are the same but there are some differences that make us unique.

Among those variations are things like body size, skin color, face shape and even the size of our limbs in relation to the rest of the body. But are these enough to make us different?

Black skin, black hair and brown eyes are the features of people who live in very hot climates. The pigmentation protects them from sun light which might otherwise kill them through cancer and so on. In Europe under cooler climatic conditions the pigmentation was lost from skin, hair and eyes. So why are we different? More important why do different cultures hate others.

Racial prejudice is born of ignorance and a lack of education which would overturn racial and cultural prejudices if that was all that mattered. But human evolution is tied up with many other factors. Cultural beliefs, food consumed, lifestyles and even the way we treat the world varies so much that we fear the differences and rarely get to see the similarities. It's a case of the 'things that divide us are greater than the things that unite us"

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    • norma-holt profile image
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      norma-holt 4 years ago

      @othellos: Absolutely - spot on.

    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Interesting lens. Learning some things is always challenging. Evolution is a fact and religion belongs to another sphere. If you mix those two things will arrive to a dead end...

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 5 years ago from Benson, IL

      Awesome Lens! You obviously put quite a bit of effort into it. I've always figured that Evolution, or intelligent design or whatever you want to call it, was just God's way of trying different stuff to see what works.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      This is a good lens, it took a lot of work, is thorough and thoughtful

    • profile image

      resabi 7 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative and thoughtful lens. I learned quite a bit and it made me think. (P.S. sprinkling...)

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      I've looked at genetic diversity from another angle recently - have you read the Genetic Bill of Rights?