December 11, 2012

The Human Family Tree Facts

  • The population of Queens includes more people born on foreign soil than any others in New York, tallying some one million foreign-born inhabitants out of a total population of 2 million. The most diverse building in this incredibly area is located in the neighborhood of Corona.

  • National Geographic's Genographic Project, a five-year research partnership led by Dr. Spencer Wells and a team of renowned international scientists and IBM researchers, aims at sampling more than 100,000 indigenous people from around the world. Much like our volunteers in Queens, everyone is encouraged to participate.

  • Geneticists at Oxford University have identified a gene called FoxP2 that may play an important role in humans' ability to speak by possibly influencing the parts of the brain that affect a person's ability to communicate through speech and language.

  • The click languages spoken by the San people of southern Africa and the Hadzabe of East Africa could be our last links to the original languages spoken by humans in Africa some 40,000 years ago.

  • At Blombos Cave in South Africa, archaeological evidence suggests that modern humans were engaging in modern human behavior, including abstract thought far earlier than previously expected. Artifacts include fishing, finely crafted bone tools, engraved objects and the possible symbolic use of ochre.

  • Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from Africa at the southern end of the Red Sea, is the possible location for humans' first departure from Africa. Researchers are busy studying coral platforms to understand what the coastal landscape may have looked like 60,000 years ago, when this first wave of humans may have left.

  • An international team of geneticists has made the astonishing discovery that more than 16 million men in central Asia have the same male Y chromosome as the Mongol leader Genghis Khan.

  • Some geneticists claim the Hazaras living in Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only populations outside of the vicinity of Ghengis Khans' former empire to carry a Y-chromosome with a unique genetic signature prevalent among Khan's descendents.

  • Archaeological excavations in Gorham's Cave, located near sea level on the steep eastern face of the Rock of Gibraltar, is the last place on the planet where we know Neanderthals lived.

  • The gene that leads to red hair and freckles in humans, MC1R may be found to control the coat colors of wooly mammoths. MC1R is also found in the DNA of Neanderthals, meaning that Neanderthals would also have had red hair.

  • For nearly all of human history, everyone in the world had brown eyes. Then, scientists believe, between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, the mutation that causes blue eyes arose in a single individual born somewhere near the Black Sea.

  • Scientists believe that major changes in skin color can happen in the relatively short evolutionary period of some 100 generations. Notably, skin color can change from both dark to light and light to dark.

  • During the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago, the water levels of the Bering and Chukchi Seas were much lower. The land that is now underwater once formed a land bridge that is considered by scientists to be the major route for people migrating onto the North American continent.

  • At the archaeological site in Paisley Caves, Oregon, scientists have found human coprolites, or fossilized feces that dates back some 14,000 years, pre-dating the Clovis culture.

  • Monte Verde is an archaeological site in south-central Chile, which has been dated to 14,500 years before present. It pre-dates the earliest known Clovis culture site of Clovis, New Mexico, by 1000 years. Recently, the Monte Verde site was accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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