There is a new brilliant programme on the BBC on a Sunday evening at the moment that has me totally captivated The Incredible Human Journey.
This series is all about tracing the colonisation of the world by Humans. The first part concentrated on the migrations within Africa from Homo Sapiens birthplace in the Rift Valley. Now it talked about genetics… did you know that if you are of African descent you can be on several “branches” of the human evolutionary tree but everybody else… yes everybody else, European, Asian, American etc. can be traced back to a very very small number of humans who left Africa about 70,000 years ago. Amazing! Dr Alice Roberts presented a set of theories about how these early pioneers left Africa including some climatic modelling that showed the barrier of the Sahara and Arabian deserts may have not been a problem at one time around then due to a weather shift meaning the deserts might have had sufficient vegetation to allow migration. Some finds in Israel area point to that being the route but it’s believed actually that migration failed and died out, so the preferred theory presented was around the southern shore of Arabia which due to changes in sea levels would have been different and would have exposed a load of fresh water springs potentially.
This week the second episode went to Asia – now why these early settlers continued walking and following animals to kill right into Siberia where it is so bloody cold I suppose we’ll never know but they did. But actually the really interesting bit in this programme and one I was totally ignorant of is that it is pretty much “perceived wisdom” in China that they are different from the rest of humanity and believe they trace back to a different evolutionary route from Homo Erectus completed different from the Africans. A professor showed some different skulls to try to back this claim up explaining this is why Chinese people have flatter faces, different eye sockets etc. However Chinese geneticist has take 1000s of samples across China and looked for a genetic mutation known to have occurred in the Rift Valley Homo Sapiens about 80,000 years ago. Guess what – every sample has it again pointing to this small migration, and he was expecting to actually prove the opposite, he supported the separate evolutionary route philosophy.
Of course one thing that this brings home to me when you look at all the wars, religious, political, racial etc. etc. differences that are perpetuated and fuelled in this world today the answer is… we are all Africans and pretty much brothers as well. Now shut up arguing, stop fighting and help those we left behind fix the problems of that continent so that kids don’t have to die needless from malaria or dysentery etc.
Damn interesting programme that is very well worth watching. Oh and for the fellas, Dr Roberts is pretty cute too… :-)