African DNA Mapping Africa Through Genetics
Dr. Sarah Tishkoff is a professor of Genetics and Biology at the University of Pennsylvania studying Africa's genetics. The doctor and her team studied 121 African populations of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and farmers.
There is an extensive amount of ethnic diversity in Africa and genetic evidence is at the moment pointing to East Africa as the cradle of humanity.
In 1924 the Taung child a fossilized skull of a young child who lived about 2.8 million years ago in Taung, South Africa was discovered. Lucy at 3.2 million years old in November 1974 in the Afar region of Ethiopia was unearthed.
In 1987, three scientists announced in the journal Nature that they had found a common ancestor to us all, African Eve was a woman who lived in Africa 150,000 years ago.
The theory is all people alive today can trace some of their genetic heritage through their mothers back to this one woman. In 2008 another species of Australopithecus, A. sediba was discovered in South Africa, it lived around 2 million years ago.
Since 2001 Dr. Tishkoff studies observable characteristics of ethnically diverse Africans, such as shape, stature, size, color, and behavior that results from the interaction of its genetic makeup with the environment. Her studies hope to reveal African history and how genetic variation can show for example why humans have different susceptibility to disease.
Dr. Tishkoff genetic diversity research can shed light on modern-day diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Africa also has a high prevalence of several infectious diseases including HIV, malaria, and TB, resulting in millions of deaths per year.
DNA samples from around 9,000 geographically and ethnically diverse Africans with distinct diets such as hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and farmers were collected. Dr. Tishkoff and her team studied 121 African populations, four African American populations, and 60 non-African populations.
This suggests southern Khoisan originated in East Africa, according to Dr Tishkoff. Modern humans originated in Africa around 200,000 years ago and then spread across the rest of the globe within the past 100,000 years.
Modern humans have existed continuously in Africa longer than in any other geographic region and have maintained relatively large effective population sizes, resulting in high levels of within-population genetic diversity.