Spencer Wells Journey Of Man Essay Definition

@ Heselton

Are you actually saying that ethnic groups do not share certain physical characteristics, are you blind. Of course they do, we all know and see very plainly that Asians have a certain shape of eye, Mongolians seem to have those high pronouced cheek bones, the San peoples all looked very similar to me as well (High sharp cheek bones and dark skin accompanied by the asian looking eyes).

I realize it is more politically correct to pretend we notice no difference what so ever in ethnic groups, that we all somehow look identical. But it isn't true, and you know it. I will admit that as races mix and match these characteristics are fading, but they are far from unnoticable. I am certainly not a predjudice person at all, I was married to a black woman for ten years infact, but to say that ethnic groups do not have defining physical characteristics is to lie or be blind. Yes genetically the difference is very minute, less than one percent I would think, but just to look at them these physical differences are very noticable.

I think these differences are beautiful to be honest. It is what makes certain ethnic groups look so exotic, to us westerners any way. You can pretend you don't see the differences or have never noticed them, but I don't believe you-simple as that. Not everything needs a scientific basis to be true as science often will not touch certai things that may stir angry emotions. Somethings are simply evident to the naked eye, and are just the way they are- whether science admits it or not.

As far as why he chose the San peoples instead of some New Yorker with the correct genetic marker, well is that not evident. He was tryng to find a people that still practiced older more primitive customs and lived in Africa, since that is where we as a species started our trek out into the world. This way we got to see something very close to the way our ancestors may have lived and he also was in the right place to start the journey. It would have made very little sense to start with some guy from New York or Jersey driving a cab or something and then jump down to Africa to start his journey.

Look, if you didn't like the doc. thats your business, no big deal. But don't be obtuse, you know why he chose to start with the San peoples as well as I do. They are the closest genetically to our ancestors and they still practice a life style similar to our ancestors.

By the way what I thought was origional about this doc., and I thought I made this very clear in my last post, was that this guy actually made the physical journey that he was referring to. I am quite sure he did not walk the whole way, like the few shots we got of him strolling through the deserts tried to insinuate, but he did make the journey none the less. I think that was an original way of presenting the facts. Also, I never said that pastoral cultures ahd NEVER been gentically altered by outside influences. I said I did not think, notice i said "think" I am not asserting this opinion to be fact, this tribe had been.However if you fail to see that these people most definetly have a better link to the past than someone living in Jersey driving a cab, I give up as again I think you are purposefully ignoring the obvious to support your dislike of the documentary. They most definitely do have a better link to the past, can the average city dweller track and kill a wild animal with a home made bow and arrow? Get real man, just say you didn't care for it and let it go.

@ Shaka

The information I have found on the San people say they have never left Africa, in other words yes they originated from East africa like everyone else and somehow ended up in South Africa as the San tribe. As far as South africans in general, thats impossible to answer. There are many different ethnic backgrounds living in South Africa, British peoples, Africans, Irish, etc. I would say that all of the Africans from South Africa either came there from other parts of Africa or were born there after thier ancestors did at some point, its the only thing that makes sense.



Spencer Wells, a geneticist, adheres to the out of Africa theory in which all of mankind stemmed from a single person who originated in Africa 60,000 years ago. In The Journey of Man he tries to figure out how man could have travelled from Africa to different parts of the world and also attempts to find genetic evidence of supporting such a journey. He is also interested in why such a journey took place. The basis of his claims is on genetic markers in Y chromosomes, which are only found in males. The idea behind this is that sons inherit Y chromosomes identical to that of their fathers. However occasionally mutations occur in the DNA and form a genetic marker which can be traced. By looking for different markers and analysing DNA in people all over the world today, a picture can be formed of where our ancestors were at certain points in time and this enables us to track their journey and the origins of man.

How did our ancestors make their way out of Africa and into other parts of the world?
According to Wells’ findings from genetic evidence,

- A first wave of humans left Africa and travelled to Australia via the coasts of South Asia.

- A second wave left Africa and some travelled through the Middle East into India and China.

- Others ventured into Central Asia from the Middle East before entering Europe while another group travelled up to Russia from Central Asia and into the North America (more specifically Alaska) through the Bering Strait before moving downwards into South America.

Why did our ancestors leave Africa?

The main reason hypothesised for this journey was the need for food. The ice age led to massive freezing of the polar ice caps and droughts across extensive parts of African. These droughts saw the depletion of food sources both in plants and animals, forcing them to move out of Africa to seek food. Similarly the presence of food sources in other parts of the world and the experience of a "quantum leap in thinking" by our ancestors attracted them to their respective destinations.

If we all have the same ancestral origins, why do people from different parts of the world have such different physical features then?
Wells also addresses the issue of people from different parts of the world looking distinct from one another. The hypothesis put forth is that their physical features altered slightly to adapt to the environment that they settled in. For instance, the people who settled in Europe received less sunlight being in the northern hemisphere and not near the equator and because of that, they did not need to produce as much melanin (a skin pigment that protects from ultraviolet rays) and had fairer skin. Those living at the southern tip of Russia in bitter cold conditions developed body structures with short trunks and limbs in order to minimize the amount of body heat lost through a wider surface area of their bodies. With this, he attributes physical differences in people primarily to the environment and not to genes or DNA.

So what can we learn from this research by Wells?

At the end, Wells drives home the point that old concepts of race are socially divisive and scientifically wrong because "we are all African under the skin". All man can trace their ancestry back to a single person hence the concept of race and the classification of people on the basis of biology, is actually scientifically wrong and is merely a social construct.


Commentary on "The Journey of Man" (A look and re-look at the concept of race)

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