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Guest Thinkers

Anthropological Aside

I am supposed to working on a piece about the suicide bombings for the CTC right now- and that deadline clock is ticking sweatily away- but came across this amazing headline on the front page of the Yemen Times.n
Scientific research suggests Yemen origin of mankindn
Tragically, that link isn’t working (nor is anything else on their site). But don’t worry- with a lede like “Contrary to the common belief that the origin of man is Africa, new scientific research suggests that Yemen could be the original homeland of all mankind,” you know you’ll get your Leaky-screwing news at WaqalWaq.n
The website DNA Forum has the article pasted on it. You have to be a registered member to read it, though. Thankfully, it is free. Let’s take a look. Here is the money pull.

“We want to reconstruct the first migration of human beings out of Africa,” explained Dr. Al-Meeri. “The general idea was that humans might have migrated from the southern tip of the Red Sea or toward the northern tip of the Red Sea. However, lately this theory has lost credibility and has been replaced by a new theory that suggests that humans migrated to several places in the world through Bab Al- Mandab.” Bab Al-Mandab is a strait located across the Red Sea in-between Djibouti and Yemen.n
Yemeni scientists are currently working with those from the
University of Florida and the University of Cambridge in continuing the research. The data collected in Yemen was analyzed and compared to similar data obtained from throughout the world.n
As a result of this research, Dr. Al-Meeri believes that the first modern human may have existed in
Yemen. He came to this conclusion by comparing the genes in samples collected from Africans with genes from the rest of the world. The results showed little similarity, especially between the African and Arabian genes. There is no evidence of gradual changes or evolution in the gene structure. Similarities between African and Arabian genes are only between 10 to 30 percent. This was determined upon the completion of several experiments which had been done on 550 genetic samples collected throughout Yemen.n
“This is the main finding of ongoing research,” Dr. Al-Meeri declared. “If these findings are proven though larger experiments in the future, they will have a great impact on our tourism. People from all around the world will be interested in visiting their original homeland.”n
Look, I’m going to level with you: despite being a registered member of DNA Forum for- well, looking back, it’s been almost ten minutes now- I am not an expert on genetics. But it seems to me that the movement across the Bab alMandab seems to work more in tandem with
Red Sea crossings out of Africa, rather than suggesting some kind of Yemen-Great Rift Valley-Red Sea migration pattern.


And, as a commentator on the forum wrote, “Yemenis pretty much have haplogroups J and E. Considering haplogroup A is the oldest haplogroup and found pretty much in Africa I’m not sure what this evidence of Yemen being the origin of mankind is.”Which is exactly what I was thinking.I just wasn’t registered quick enough to post it.

This story ends kind of sadly, but also predictably.The doctor working in Yemen framed her conclusions around the idea of dual crossings- anthropologically interesting, but not as breathtaking as the Yemeni spin.I found it somewhat hopeful, but with a backdrop of desperation, the way even this was spun into a bid for more tourism.Given the straits Yemen is in, few- except the surprisingly snarky and juvenile posters at DNA Forum- could blame them.Yemen already is history-drenched enough that, in a better world, it would be a major tourist draw- or at least enough to keep them afloat.Sadly, though, instead of happily posting about Yemen’s place in the fascinating history of man, I have to go back to writing about the atavistic attacks that will continue to suck dry the nations’s bony coffers.


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