- Note: This is an extract from a longer article that debunks what I have labeled ‘Pancake Fallacy’ (“All races are mixed therefore race does not exist”). I thought that this section may be useful as a separate article.
Defining and Identifying “Race”
Race is defined by proportions of ancestry (admixture) from specific genetic populations (races or ethnic groups), either ancient or modern.
Race is identified via cumulative shared phenotypic characteristics; i.e. physical appearance, behavior, etc.
So, for example, a “White person” is somebody who is descended almost entirely (>95%, on average) from Western Hunter-Gatherers, Early European Farmers, and Proto-Indo-Europeans. White people are identified by phenotypic characteristics such as Europid Caucasoid skeletal morphology, pale skin, a greater propensity for lighter eye and hair pigmentation, the ability to tan, freckles, mostly straight hair, medium to high levels of body-hair, and so on.
Pretty straightforward, right?
As you can see on the diagram below, Northern and Southern Europeans have different levels of ancestry from these 3 populations, which is why Nords look different to Meds. To use another cooking analogy: The difference between a pancake and a regular cake is pretty insignificant (different proportions of the same ingredients, plus some butter), but the end results are quite divergent.
People of completely distinct races may share some of the same ancestral populations. For example, both Europeans and people from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have ancestry from ancient populations of Europe, Anatolia (Turkey), the Caucasus, and the Middle East.
However, on a principal component analysis (which displays the genetic distance between individuals or populations), people of Europe and MENA form separate, clearly distinct genetic clusters. Ashkenazi Jews bridge the gap, but they’re a mixed-race population; mostly MENA with some European ancestry.
What distinguishes Europeans from MENA people are different proportions of ancestry from these ancient populations, and additional ancestry from populations unique to each group:
As you can see on the diagram above, Europeans have:
- Much higher proportions of WHG
- Moderately higher proportions of Anatolia_N
- Significantly lower proportions of Iran_N (which is actually a Caucasus population in Europeans, not Iranian)
- Ancestry from Eastern European Hunter-Gatherers (EHG), which is absent from the MENA gene pool
- Almost no Levant_N ancestry, which is a major component of the MENA gene pool
- No Sub-Saharan African ancestry (Yoruba), which is found in trace amounts in the MENA gene pool