By Malcolm Ritter for AP via comcast.net News:
Scientists who decoded the DNA of some southern Africans have found striking new evidence of the genetic diversity on that continent, and uncovered a surprise about the ancestry of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
They found, for example, that any two Bushmen in their study who spoke different languages were more different genetically than a European compared to an Asian. That was true even if the Bushmen lived within walking distance of each other.
“If we really want to understand human diversity, we need to go to (southern) Africa and we need to study those people,” said Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University. He’s an author of the study, which appears in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.
The study also found 1.3 million tiny variations that hadn’t been observed before in any human DNA. That should help scientists sort out whether particular genes promote certain diseases or influence a person’s response to medications. Findings like that could have payoffs both within Africa and elsewhere, experts said.
The genetic diversity of Africa’s population is no surprise to scientists. Modern humans evolved on that continent about 200,000 years ago and have lived there longer than anyplace else. So that’s where they’ve had the most time to develop genetic differences. The varied environments of Africa have also encouraged genetic differences…
[continues at AP via comcast.net News]