Is Europe and Asia seen as a melting pot

Human historyThere are no races

The term "race" as we understand it today developed during the time when Europeans "discovered" the earth, foreign continents and cultures. In the 18th century, with the emergence of modern sciences, philosophers and naturalists began, in their endeavors to order and explain the world, to value external differences:

"Europeans - white, sanguine, muscular

Americans - red, choleric, upright

Asians - yellow, melancholy, stiff

Africans - black, phlegmatic, limp

Carl von Linné, Systema Naturae, tenth edition, 1758 "

This conception of "race", which emerged during the Enlightenment, formed the spiritual foundation on which colonialism could develop, imperialism and later the national racial ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries and the Holocaust.

"In psychological terms, naturals are closer to the mammals - monkeys, dogs - than to the highly civilized Europeans. Therefore, their individual value of life is to be judged very differently.

Ernst Haeckel, 1903 "

Not a "race" according to DNA

A look at our DNA reveals that there is no such thing as "race". After the human genome had been deciphered at the beginning of the millennium, one of the most important protagonists of this time - the US geneticist Craig Venter explained:

"There are more differences between black people than between black and light people. And there are more differences between so-called Caucasians than between Caucasians and non-Caucasians."

The genetic code does not define a 'race'. It's a purely social construct. In the history of modern mankind, everything came together somewhere in Africa 300,000 years ago. Not with a single couple: A network connects everyone who has ever lived on earth - and this network is encoded in the genes. The deciphering of these genes has shown that any two people in the world differ in a thousandth of their genome. So the differences are very small.

"If you imagine the family tree of man today, then the thick branches of the family tree are in Africa, and one small branch that is found outside of Africa, that is the non-Africans. We are often more closely related as Europeans or Asians certain Africans as these Africans are with other Africans. "

Explains Johannes Krause, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Man in Jena. There are no defined limits:

"You don't see now that the European starts here and the Asian ends there, but there are gradients that reflect the geography, which makes sense that someone who comes from Western Europe is more closely related to someone who comes from Western Europe comes from East Asia. Of course the population was not always in the same place, but there were also a lot of shifts, a lot of migration "

Global migration of the genus Homo

In the course of time, members of the homo genus from Africa have made their way into the world again and again. It was a spread from generation to generation. The ancestors of the Neanderthals left Africa around 600,000 years ago. Then Homo sapiens successfully populated the earth - and mingled with other types of people:

"The Neanderthals were European and Asian. They lived in Eurasia 500,000 years ago to around 40,000 years ago."

And obviously Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis produced fertile offspring:

"The first thing that applies to Neanderthals is that we now know that everyone outside of Africa has a little bit of Neanderthals inside them. In Europe a little less, in Asia a little more. The greatest amount of this Neanderthal or primeval human DNA we find in Oceania, in New Guinea and in Australia. Within Africa we hardly find any intermingling with Neanderthals. "

The genetic history of modern Europeans tells of several great shifts. The first came with the immigration of farmers. Johannes Krause:

"About 7, 8,000 years ago people in Europe started farming. The genetic studies of recent years have shown that people immigrated to Europe and brought the agriculture with them."

Europe is a genetic melting pot

These people came from Anatolia, and they supplanted the hunters and gatherers who had previously lived in Europe. Only traces of them can be found in the genetic make-up. The "newcomers" brought their domesticated animals and plants with them and spread their rural way of life over Europe. Then, 4,800 years ago, shepherd peoples came, who brought horses, wagons and bronze technology with them. That is why there are only traces of the early farmers in their genetic make-up. Europe is a genetic melting pot. And yet Europeans have one eye catcher: their skin color:

"We know the genes that cause fair skin color. Most Europeans now have these mutations. If we look now at when these mutations came about, then the first one came about about 10,000 years ago, with the beginning of agriculture, and has it The second was only added in the Bronze Age. That actually means the light skin color that we find in Europe today is only 4-5,000 years old, so that's a very recent development, this light skin. "

Adaptation of the skin color to UV radiation

That fair skin spread in Europe cannot have been a coincidence. It must have offered a decisive advantage:

"It simply has to do with the strong selection pressure in evolution that was caused by sunlight."

Professor Markus Nöthen, Director of the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of Bonn. When it comes to skin pigmentation, he explains, UV radiation from the sun plays a decisive role:

"On the one hand, you want to protect the folic acid with more pigment in the skin, because it performs important functions in the cells. On the other hand, you naturally want to let sunlight penetrate into the skin in order to produce vitamin D. You have two here such opposing effects, and depending on how much sun exposure you have, you have to protect one mechanism more or promote the other. And on this balance it actually depends what pigmentation my skin has. "

The fact that the systems for very light skin have so conspicuously established itself in Europe is probably due to agriculture. Johannes Krause:

"That was probably the deciding factor for people to be able to farm in Europe at all, because: At least the early farmers were vegetarians. You can also get vitamin D from fish or meat. That is probably what the hunters and gatherers did."

The arable farmers solved the vitamin D problem through skin color: the further north they farmed, the lighter they had to get. Only with light skin does so much ultraviolet radiation get directly into the cells that sufficient vitamin D is produced despite a vegetarian diet. However, this selection pressure only affects the skin, Markus Nöthen:

"But one shouldn't conclude from the difference in skin color that people are also different with regard to other characteristics. That would simply be completely wrong."

This has no effect on intelligence or physical performance. The "races" that have brought so much misfortune throughout history do not exist at all.