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Human genetic separation suggested

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI) May 19, 2008
Israeli scientists say they've determined the human race was divided into two separate groups within Africa for as much as half of the specie's existence.

Tel Aviv University scientist Saharon Rosset and Doron Behar of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa said climate change, reduction in populations and harsh conditions might have caused and maintained the separation.

Rosset, who is also affiliated with IBM's Watson Research Center in New York, said their study provides insight into the early demographic history of human populations before they moved out of Africa.

"These early human populations were small and isolated from each other for many tens of thousands of years," Rosset said.

The researchers surveyed African mitochondrial DNA, including more than 600 complete genomes from indigenous populations across the continent.

Dr. Spencer Wells, director of the Genographic Project and explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, said:

"This new study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species' history. Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA."

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