Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Archbishop Tutu's DNA Helps Show African Diversity

"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," reports the Associated Press. "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. "

"The study focused on genomes, a person's complete collection of DNA. The researchers decoded genomes of a Kalahari Desert bushman and of Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace laureate and former head of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. They also decoded partial genomes from three other Bushmen. Tutu was included to represent a Bantu ancestry, in contrast to Bushmen. Bantu people have a tradition of farming, while Bushmen are longtime hunter-gatherers who represent the oldest known lineage of modern humans."

"But when researchers looked at Tutu's genome, they found surprising evidence that his mother's ancestry includes at least one Bushman woman. It's not clear how many generations back that woman lived. "

Tutu told The Associated Press that discovering he is related to "these wise people" made him feel "very privileged and blessed." READ MORE