I’m currently reading Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade for the second time. The book describes our human ancestors (that’s all of us) who lived in Africa 50,000 years ago. It discusses our progressive use of tools, our loss of hair (some more than others) and our learning to cooperate and play well with each other. The book deals extensively with how humans originated, the role that communication played in our survival, the way we radiated across the globe and how we overtook other Homo species, including Homo neanderthalensis. The book leans very heavily on our genome and the components of the DNA that makes us who we are. Our DNA determines our skin color, our eye color, the wave of our hair, our gender, many of our inherited diseases and propensity toward those diseases and much more. Our DNA, for the most part, determines who we are.

The Genographic Project sponsored by National Geographic and IBM is attempting to specifically identify, through tracing the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA, where we came from and how we got here. They are able to do this by noting the small changes called markers in these chromosomes and identifying where and when these mutations were introduced.

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