Does the concept of race have a genetic basis?

The concept of race is a hotly debated and charged topic. All humans belong to the same species, Homo sapiens, but we have a range of physical similarities and differences. We may identify ourselves as a certain race based on our physical appearance, language, or cultural background. Are any these differences reflected in our genes? Are people of the same race more genetically similar than people of different races? One approach to study human relatedness is through mitochondrial DNA, a type of DNA that is inherited only from our mothers. The sequencing of mitochondrial DNA has led to exciting discoveries relating to human pre-history and early human migration, such as the existence of "Mitochondrial Eve," a woman from whom all living humans inherited their mitochondrial DNA. Studying mitochondrial DNA allows us to understand the origins of humanity and how we spread over the world before modern transportation arrived on the scene.


sample collection

Teaching Resources

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Data Analysis Materials


Next Generation Science Standards
Life Sciences


Italic standards can be covered by modifying the module