The Intersection

Scientists from the Netherlands have created a genetic map of Europe showing the degree of relatedness between populations in which nearly 2,500 subjects were analyzed by correlating their genetic variations.

Such tools help to provide insight into human migrations, survival advantages, and genetic barriers…. but my favorite part is the way they show people are so similar. On a pale blue dot fraught with conflict, it’s a reminder we’re not all that different in the big picture. More at The New York Times.


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Comments

  1. #1 DrA
    August 14, 2008

    So much genetic similarity in spite of different religions, languages, cultures, and national boundaries all of which function to restrict gene flow.

  2. #2 Bob O'H
    August 14, 2008

    but my favorite part is the way they show people are so similar

    … except for the Finns. And it’s not just genetic, I can tell you.

  3. #3 razib
    August 14, 2008

    So much genetic similarity in spite of different religions, languages, cultures, and national boundaries all of which function to restrict gene flow.

    boundaries weren’t important for most of history. water and mountains were the biggest block.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    August 14, 2008

    Expanding on Razib’s (and Bob’s) point:

    The national languages of Europe are, with a handful of exceptions, all Indo-European languages, so it makes sense that most Europeans are genetically related to most other Europeans. Now let’s consider the two linguistic outliers among the national groups represented on the chart: FI and HU. (These two languages, along with Estonian. are Uralic rather than Indo-European; the other exception is Turkish, which is from a language group most of whose representatives are in Central Asia.) Hungary is in the middle of Europe, so they had to either displace or assimilate people from the surrounding Indo-European groups. Finland, by contrast, is off in the northeastern corner of Europe: to get there you must either cross the Baltic Sea (a much bigger obstacle than either the English Channel or the Oresund Strait), pass through the arctic regions of Sweden or Norway, or go around through Russia. Thus there were not large numbers of Indo-European speakers passing through Finland, and that accounts for why the Finns are genetically distinct from the other groups in the chart.

    The study did not include Russians, but my guess is that genetically as well as geographically they would occupy the gap between PO and FI.

  5. #5 Thinker
    August 15, 2008

    OK, everybody sing:

    Finland, Finland, Finland.
    The country where I want to be,
    Pony trekking or camping,
    Or just watching TV,
    Finland, Finland, Finland.
    It’s the country for me.

    You’re so near to Russia.
    So far from Japan,
    Quite a long way from Cairo,
    Lots of miles from Vietnam.

    Finland, Finland, Finland…

    (Sorry for not contributing anything serious, but it’s already Friday afternoon here in Europe, and I’m approaching “weekend mode”…)