The advancement of science led to the development of a new branch of study known as genetic anthropology. The major project of this discipline is in determining human migratory patterns, ethnic differences and ancestral relationships by studying the DNA of various peoples around the globe and physical evidences as well (genomics. energy. gov). It is a manifestation of the role of science in furthering knowledge about these aspects of the human past.
Majority of human DNA, when passed from one generation to the next, mixes in the process which is the condition that makes each individual unique. However, some elements of DNA are inherited unchanged by offspring. For instance, the Y chromosome is inherited by sons from their fathers and the mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA is passed on from mother to child (genomics. energy. gov). These DNA components can and do mutate from time to time turning into genetic markers that can be passed on from one generation to the next.
Over the passage of time, people who inhabit a particular geographic area will have these common genetic markers and when they migrate, they carry these markers with them. The Y chromosome and mtDNA are akin to genetic family names which permits males to trace their paternal genealogy and for both males and females to determine their maternal genealogy (Mitotyping Technologies). DNA studies of indigenous peoples also permit scientists to determine the period in time and specific area when certain genetic markers came about.
Hence, the genetic markers in every individual can be used to trace the region and migration pattern of their ancestors (AP). The biogeographic ethnicity of a person can also be inferred from DNA analysis. The mtDNA is primarily used in establishing the place of origin of a person’s ancestors as well as other information on genetic backgrounds as claimed by many DNA testing laboratories (Mitotyping Technologies). However, the scientific community has still to come up with a single accepted definition of genetic ethnicity.
AP (Associated Press). Human Migration Traced Through Genes. MSNBC. com. 13 April 2005. 30 April 2008 <http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/7489681/> Genomics. energy. gov. DNA, Ancestry and Ancient Human Migrations. 8 January 2008. 30 April 2008 <http://www. ornl. gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/ elsi/humanmigration. shtml> Mitotyping Technologies. About mtDNA. 2007. 30 April 2008 http://www. mitotyping. com/59859492812154/blank/browse. asp? a=383&BMDRN= 2000&BCOB=0&c=51354&5985Nav=%7C&NodeID=96
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