Far-right white supremacist ideology is on the rise in Europe, North America and Australia. It appeals to a racist notion whereby many white supremacists see themselves as members of a “pure” race that is at risk of dilution and contamination.
Science does not support the idea of pure races with ancient origins. In the past few years, genetic sequencing of ancient and modern humans and related species has given us a flood of new information about how human populations have evolved.
The evidence reveals a history of ongoing genetic mingling, due to interbreeding between different populations and even species. Humans from different groups had children together, and even with Neanderthals and members of other now-extinct hominin species.
This mingling occurred constantly in the long process of human migration across the globe. Europeans inhabit one region of a large genetic continuum and are no more or less “pure” than any other population.
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From Africa to the world
The genetic history of humanity begins in what we now know as Africa. The exact location (or locations) of the first anatomically modern humans is debated, but there is a consensus they lived south of the Sahara desert between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.
A group or groups of these early humans migrated out of Africa and into the Middle East, as we now know it, some time between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago. Next, some went east into Asia while others headed west into Europe.
At some point, the wandering humans met and bred with Neanderthals. These now-extinct hominins had left Africa many thousands of years earlier.
Modern Asians and Europeans still carry genetic signatures of Neanderthals, while sub-Saharan Africans do not.
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