quarta-feira, 6 de maio de 2009

Garden of Eden was in today's Kalahari desert

May 2009

Locations for the Garden of Eden have been offered many times before, but seldom in the somewhat inhospitable borderland where Angola and Namibia meet. A new genetic survey of people in Africa, the largest of its kind, suggests, however, that the region in southwest Africa seems, on the present evidence, to be the origin of modern humans. The authors have also identified some 14 ancestral populations.

The new data goes far toward equalizing the genetic picture of the world, given that most genetic information has come from European and Asian populations. But because it comes from Africa, the continent on which the human lineage evolved, it also sheds light on the origins of human life.

The origin of a species is generally taken to be the place where its individuals show the greatest genetic diversity. For humans, when the new African data is combined with DNA information from the rest of the world, this spot lies on the coast of southwest Africa near the Kalahari desert, the research team, led by Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, said in journal Science.

The area is a homeland of the Bushmen or San people, whose language is distinguished by many click sounds. But the San in the past might not have been restricted to where they are now, she said. The San are thought to have once occupied a much larger area, one that probably stretched from southern Africa up the east coast to as far as present-day Ethiopia.

Since the geneticists’ calculations refer to people, not geography, the San - and therefore the site of greatest human diversity - might have been located elsewhere in the past. Tishkoff’s team has also calculated the exit point from which a small human group - maybe a single tribal band of 150 people - left Africa some 50,000 years ago and populated the world. The region is near the midpoint of the African coast of the Red Sea. Tishkoff and her colleagues found that the 14 ancestral African populations they detected are now highly mixed, with the exception of the Bantu speakers.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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