Scientists: Ethnicity may not exist, genetically speaking

Summary:There are more genetic differences within ethnic groups than between them, indicating that distinct 'ethnic groups' exist in the mind more than the body, according to new research.

There are more genetic differences within ethnic groups than between them, indicating that distinct 'ethnic groups' exist in the mind more than the body, according to new research.

Writing in the journal BMC Genetics, researchers studying central Asian ethnic groups found that the groups are more defined by society than ancestry.

An international team of researchers led by Evelyne Heyer of the Musée de l'Homme in Paris, France studied mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome data from several populations of two major language ethnic groups of Central Asia: the Turkic and Indo-Iranian groups.

Results concluded that, for at least two of the Turkic groups in Central Asia, "ethnicity is a constructed social system maintaining genetic boundaries with other groups, rather than being the outcome of common genetic ancestry."

Fascinatingly, there was no common ancestry in a specific ethnic group, according to the research.

If common among other ethnic groups, the finding could turn the way humans think about each other on its head.

So what determines "ethnicity," really? According to the research, cultural, linguistic, economic, religious and political walls put up by humans themselves. [via ScienceDaily]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

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Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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