Africans Have World's Greatest Genetic Diversity

Landmark study tracks modern humanity's origins to area in South Africa
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2009 6:19 AM CDT
Researchers, who traveled deep into remote regions of Africa for the study, said indigenous populations were eager to help.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The people of Africa have by far the world's most diverse genes, says a new study that sheds light on humanity's origins. Researchers—who traveled deep into remote areas of Africa to study more than a hundred populations—have pinpointed the origin of modern humans to an area near the South Africa-Namibia border, the Washington Post reports. "This is an absolute landmark," said one anthropologist. "It's incredible."

The study found that nine of humanity's 14 "ancestral clusters" are in Africa. "You're seeing more diversity in one continent than across the globe," said one researcher. The study also examined a group of African-Americans and found that 71% of their genes were west African, 8% were from elsewhere in Africa, and 13% were European. The results mean that African-Americans will have trouble tracing their lineage in precise detail, the Post notes.