DNA and Race

PLoS ONE, an open source way of publishing science and medicine studies and research, has an interesting article about the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of people on the Melanesian Islands.

It may not be all that good news for Young Earth Creationists though, as this study looks at the islands which were settled 40,000 years ago – more than thirty thousand years before God created the Earth. Also, it may help to undermine the concept of significant racial differences between people from different continents. It appears this group of people are among the most genetically diverse in the world, with variations being based on the size of their home island and the language they speak. This is from the abstract:

Melanesian populations are known for their diversity, but it has been hard to grasp the pattern of the variation or its underlying dynamic. Using 1,223 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences from hypervariable regions 1 and 2 (HVR1 and HVR2) from 32 populations, we found the among-group variation is structured by island, island size, and also by language affiliation. The more isolated inland Papuan-speaking groups on the largest islands have the greatest distinctions, while shore dwelling populations are considerably less diverse (at the same time, within-group haplotype diversity is less in the most isolated groups). (Friedlaender JS et al. (2007) Melanesian mtDNA Complexity. PLoS ONE 2(2): e248. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000248)

As the differences from one island to the next are quite large here, it seems somewhat trivial to try and identify differences between one continent and the next as being significant. Eat that Jade Goody.