Hi! Thanks for stopping by today :) If you haven't had a chance to swing by and enter my giveaway (hey, book of your choice? Gotta love it!) check this post out. Easy to enter, and I'd love it if you celebrated a little with me!
Okay, so this semester I'm back to teaching my favorite class: Human Variation. I love demonstrating to students just how alike we all are on a biological level, and then discussing how we *still* can't seem to get over these differences on a social level and why that is. It always makes for good discussions and I love getting students thinking. (I'll admit, though, teaching this class in Montana is a weeeee bit different from California--I'll let you guess why... :)
So, one of the things I start every semester off with is the Race Literacy Quiz, which has some really interesting questions that make people think about the social/biological nature of the variation in our species. Have you taken this quiz before?
I'm going to post a few questions here--see how you do!
1. Which characteristic did the ancient Greeks believe most distinguished them from "barbarians"?
B. Skin color
B. Skin color
D. Fruit flies
3. When Jamestown colonist John Rolfe and his new wife Pocahontas traveled to the Court of London in 1619, it caused a scandal because:
A. An Englishman had married an Indian
B. John Rolfe had cuckolded General John Smith, the leader of the colony
C. Pocahontas, a princess, married beneath her station by wedding a commoner
D. Londoners had never seen an Indian before
E. A Christian had married a heathen
4. Which continent has the greatest human genetic diversity?
D. North America
E. South America
|This question always makes me think|
of My Big Fat Greek Wedding's dad
character & his etymology lessons :)
2. D Fruit flies have been around for a very long time but they also have a short life span, so lots of genetic mutations have accumulated over many generations. In contrast, modern humans are one of the most genetically similar of all species. On average, only one of every 1,000 nucleotides (the "letters" that make up our DNA) differ one individual from another. This is because we are a relatively young species (approximately 150,000 - 200,000 years old). We simply haven't been around long enough to accumulate much genetic variation. Also, humans have always moved, mixed and mated, further homogenizing our gene pool. Beneath the skin, we're all very similar.
3. C 17th century England was a very hierarchical, feudal society where people's class status was fixed at birth. Status was so important that laws regulated the clothing people could wear so they couldn't "pass" as another class. When John Rolfe took his new bride Pocahontas (who had converted to Christianity) back with him to London in 1617, the English had not yet developed the racial ideology that later justified their taking of Indian lands. But it was unthinkable that royalty would marry a commoner.
4. C We are all Africans. Modern humans (Homo sapien sapiens) originated in Africa, and we spent most of our evolution as a species together there. Some modern humans first left Africa 50,000 - 70,000 years ago and spread out around the world. All the other populations of the world can be seen as a subset of Africans. Every human genetic trait found elsewhere can also be found in Africa, with the exception of relatively few recent variations favored by the environment, genetic drift, or sexual selection - such as light skin.
How did you do?