The exploration of DNA is like the exploration of space. For one thing, both are very recent things. Up until the 1930s, we thought this galaxy was the universe. Watson and Crick’s work on DNA was in 1953. For another, we’ve still got a lot to learn. In space, it’s literally infinite and no, I am not misusing the word literally. With DNA, scientists are getting pretty good at reading it – the next step will be writing it and that will open up a fine, big kettle of worms, no doubt about it.
Here, though, is a lovely little video about one of the applications of DNA. Volunteers from many different countries were tested, and surprised to find out what mongrels they (and probably almost all of us) are. It was their reactions that were beautiful. Nobody reacted with disappointment or rage. The English skinhead was a bit surprised that he was part German and the Kurdish girl a bit put out to find she was part Turkish, but they took it with good humor. They all had had a bit of an eye opener about race and what it means (and what it doesn’t) and their prejudices evaporated – simply evaporated – with the revelation.
It reminded me of a person I knew long ago, a British guy named Steve, who was a volunteer on an Israeli kibbutz at the same time as me. He was quite dark skinned, but since he’d been raised as an orphan and had no idea who his parents were, he did not know his ethnic origin. He could have been anything from Italian to Arabic, and he had a real complex about it. I hope he sees this.
There was another story I saw in the news today, that not only had humans had sex with Neanderthals, but also Denisovans, and now there’s some other group who the Denisovan’s were, no doubt, shagging on a regular basis.
Scientist say we had sex with these other species but, to me, that doesn’t sound right. If you can have sex and breed babies (as must have happened, or the DNA would not have been passed down)then you may well be of different races, but different species is a stretch. Or maybe I’ve just got the definition wrong. After all, there are ligers, and geeps, and grolar bears.
Yup, DNA is amazing stuff.