BBC News recently reported on the largest genetic study of Africa to date. According to the article:
“The work revealed the continent to be the most genetically diverse place on Earth, and identified descendents of our earliest human ancestors….The research also located the origin of modern human migration in south-western Africa, near the coastal border of Namibia and Angola. This is based on the widely-accepted theory that the highest level of genetic diversity is in the oldest population – the one that has had the longest to evolve.”
Previous genetic studies of Africa have focused on smaller areas and populations. This time scientists studied genetic material from 121 different African populations, involving the collection of over 3,000 samples and the identification of 14 ancestral population clusters, led by Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania. “Our goal has been to do research that will benefit Africans…I hope this will set the stage for future genomics research there, and future biomedical research,” Dr. Tishkoff reported.
One interesting result is the identification of the San people (also known as Bushmen), located in southwestern Africa near the coastline border of Namibia and Angola, as possibly “the desendants of a population ancestral to all modern humans,” based on genetic diversity and lineage.