Jennifer Mansfield-Jones (
31 Jan 1995 22:45:34 GMT

It seems to me that anthropology is the only biological
discipline represented among the comments thus far. A rather
active area of molecular biology is being neglected. Perhaps
this is overlooked because people studying the matter often say
nothing about 'race' -- more precise and less emotionally
charged terms are preferred. For anyone interested in pursuing
this, some of the references below might be useful. Note that
most are 1-2 years old, and should be presumed obsolescent at the
very least. Those not indicated as books are journal articles.

General disclaimer: To the extent that I'm concerned with
evolutionary issues, they concern the coevolution of hosts and
their parasites. I'm not a) a gene jockey myself, b)
professionally involved in human evolution at all, or c) an
initiate of the phenetic-cladistic holy wars. I'm providing the
pointers below because no one else has, not because I wish to
claim expertise in the field.

(book) Avise, J.C. 1994. Molecular Markers, Natural History
and Evolution. Chapman & Hall, NY. 511 pp.
[[This book has relatively little to say about humans. However,
it's a good introduction to the techniques and taxonomic

Degnan, S.M. 1993. The perils of single gene trees --
mitochondrial versus single-copy nuclear DNA variation in
white-eyes (Aves:Zosteropidae). Molec. Ecol. 2(4): 219-225.
[[Although this seems irrelevant, being about birds, it's really
a cautionary tale about using any single piece of genetic
information as an historical guide. Mitochondrial DNA is useful,
but not the whole story.]]

(book) Hillis, D.M. and C. Moritz (eds.). 1990. Molecular
Systematics. Sinauer, MA. 588 pp.
[[This is a good technical reference for "older" techniques.
It assumes a certain starting technical level: a sample section
is "Characteristics of distance estimates derived from raw
melting curve data". It describes bootstrapping well, and gives
software sources.]]

Kim, J., F.J. Rohlf and R.R. Sokal. 1993. The accuracy of
phylogenetic estimation using the neighbor-joining method.
Evolution 47(2): 471-486.
[[This deals with technical issues pertaining to a common method
of tree construction. It's relevant to the Nei paper below.]]

Maddison, D.R., M. Ruvolo and D.L. Swofford. 1992. Geographic
origins of human mitochondrial-DNA - phylogenetic evidence from
control region sequences. Syst. Biol. 41(1): 111-124.
[[This is not uncontested material, and 1992 is old in this
field, but I'd like to include one reference pointing out
even the geography issues aren't resolved to everyone's

Nei, M. and A.K. Roychoudhury. 1993. Evolutionary relationships
of human populations on a global scale. Mol. Biol. Evol. 10(5):
[[This is a protein allele based study, not a direct genome
examination. It deals both with the authors' proposed tree and
technical reasons for preferring one method of tree construction
over another. This one contains some interesting trees, and is
worth looking at even if much of the text remains, let's say,

Penny, D., M.D. Hendy and M.A. Steel. 1992. Progress with methods
for constructing evolutionary trees. TREE 7(3): 73-79.
[[TRends in Ecology and Evolution is a review journal intended to
help outsiders keep up. Hence this paper is aimed at the
generalist, though it is by no means non-technical.]]

Penny, D., E.E. Watson and M.A. Steel. 1993. Trees from languages
and genes are very similar. Syst. Biol. 42(3): 382-384.
[[This paper discusses more groups than Nei and Roychoudhury,
and the tree is based on a different algorithm. The major
branching patterns are very similar.]]

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In the unlikely event that the J. Mansfield-Jones
Biology Department has an official
opinion on anything, this isn't it.