Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Family Tree for all of Humanity

Human diversity has always fascinated me. Like many before me, I’ve often sat under the stars wondering who had come before me. Where did my ancestors come from? And if we all came from the same source, why did we all look so different? How did we become so diverse?

A few years ago, I tried to do my family tree with my father. After much research, we eventually reached a point where we no longer had any information to keep us going.

That’s what Spencer Wells, a genographer who analyzes DNA from people from regions all over the world – and that I’m completely obsessed with, calls “history”.

Turns out, within the last 200,000 years we all shared a common ancestor in Africa, and that analyzing genetic data allows us to trace human migrations over the past 50,000 years as our African ancestors migrated to other continents.

I was always a firm believer that we all came from the same origin. That we were all related, no matter how different, we were brothers and sisters. All of us. That belief has led me to develop an even greater source of inner-peace in moments of intense annoyance by other human beings: compassion.

Spencer Wells is an amazing, eloquent and extremely intelligent speaker. Here’s one of his presentations in which he explains how we can build a family tree for all of humanity. It’s fascinating.

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