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Part 2: The exercise is based upon your reading and the video, Genographic Project (
All humans share some common bits of DNA, passed down to us from our African ancestors. Geneticist Spencer Wells (also an anthropologist) talks about how his Genographic Project uses this shared DNA to figure out how we are — in all our diversity — truly connected. Answer the following questions.
The amount of human genetic variation between populations is more modest than you may think. How genetically similar are to two random people? [you may google answer but be sure to note the source]
2. Geneticist Spencer Wells describes the difference between his (geneticists) studies’ approach of human origins verses those of paleoanthropologists and archaeologists. Explain.
3. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been a widely used tool in human evolutionary and population genetic studies over the past three decades. Why? Consider how is it passed down the genealogical lines of decent and why it is useful to researchers of human origins?
4. Spencer Wells knew that his initial study didn’t have a sufficient sample size. He even referred to this in the video as a very broad-brush view of the patterns of human migration. How did he resolve this issue in his more recent work with National Geographic? [hint- what two steps did he increase his sample size?]
5. In his slide on the “Neolithic Revolution,” Dr. Wells charts changes in population size over thousands of years. In the period between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago, he has the words population bottleneck. What is a population bottleneck?
6. According to Wells, what is the Neolithic Revolution marked by (it’s an important human milestone) and how did it impact population size?
7. Although not fully elaborated on in the video, you need to know about a type of genetic drift called a population or genetic bottleneck.
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