Thursday, September 10, 2009

Genome Q&A

Fio is terribly interested in all the DNA research that's occurring nowadays, but she doesn't think we have all the answers yet. She is currently furrowing her forehead about differences in skin color and the origin of her old favorite, the Neanderthals.

Differing skin colors are usually just tossed off as superficial--all-consuming to bigots, but unworthy of scholarly study. But Fio doesn't buy the LaMarkian scenario that Europeans were all the color of modern-day Africans and that their skins lightened up as they moved into northern, colder climes. Look at the Eskimos and the Lapps; look at the dark-skinned populations living in heavily-shaded tropical rain forests.

Perhaps the original African population had more of a variety of genetic possibilities color-wise, like dogs and horses. Isolated groups then could have bred out one or the other extreme. Or perhaps there was a beam of radiation from a sunspot that altered a gene or two here and there. Whatever, it's an interesting topic and Fio doesn't think it should be ignored just because it's politically incorrect. Skirting the issue in itself implies an embarrassment, a latent prejudice.

On to Neanderthals. Fio wants to know: if they aren't part of our line or lineage, where do they fit in? Where did they come from? An earlier migration out of Africa? Spontaneous whatever? Adam and Eve before the Fall?

You'll notice Fio never asks a question without suggesting some directions for research. Go for it, science geeks!

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