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Genetically Speaking, Race Doesn't Exist In Humans

Race doesn't matter. In fact, it doesn't even exist in humans. While that may sound like the idealistic decree of a minister or rabbi, it's actually the conclusion of an evolutionary and population biologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Alan R. Templeton, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts and Sciences at Washington University, has analyzed DNA from global human populations that reveal the patterns of human evolution over the past one million years. He shows that while there is plenty of genetic variation in humans, most of the variation is individual variation. While between-population variation exists, it is either too small, which is a quantitative variation, or it is not the right qualitative type of variation -- it does not mark historical sublineages of humanity.

Using the latest molecular biology techniques, Templeton has analyzed millions of genetic sequences found in three distinct types of human DNA and concludes that, in the scientific sense, the world is colorblind. That is, it should be.

"Race is a real cultural, political and economic concept in society, but it is not a biological concept, and that unfortunately is what many people wrongfully consider to be the essence of race in humans -- genetic differences," says Templeton. "Evolutionary history is the key to understanding race, and new molecular biology techniques offer so much on recent evolutionary history. I wanted to bring some objectivity to the topic. This very objective analysis shows the outcome is not even a close call: There's nothing even like a really distinct subdivision of humanity."

Templeton used the same strategy to try to identify race in human populations that evolutionary and population biologists use for non-human species, from salamanders to chimpanzees. He treated human populations as if they were non-human populations.

"I'm not saying these results don't recognize genetic differences among human populations," he cautions. "There are d
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Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@aismail.wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
7-Oct-1998


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