One of the touchiest subjects in human evolutionary biology —or human biology in general — is the question of whether there are human races.....
But from that sordid scientific past has come a backlash: the subject of human races, or even the idea that they exist, has become Taboo. And this Despite the palpable morphological Differences between human groups — differences that must be based on Genetic Differences and Would, if seen in Other species, lead to their classification as either Races or Subspecies
(the terms are pretty interchangeable in biology
). Racial delimitation could, critics say, lead to a resurgence of racism, racial profiling, or even eugenics.
Well, if that’s the consensus, I am an outlier. I do think that human races exist in the sense that biologists apply the term to animals....
What are races?
In my own field of evolutionary biology, races of animals
(also called “subspecies” or “ecotypes”) are morphologically distinguishable populations that live in allopatry
(i.e. are geographically separated). There is no firm criterion on how much morphological difference it takes to delimit a race. Races of mice, for example, are described solely on the basis of difference in coat color, which could involve only one or two genes
Under that criterion, are there human Races?
As we all know, there are morphologically different groups of people who live in different areas, though those differences are blurring due to recent innovations in transportation that have led to more admixture between human groups.
How many human races are there?
That’s pretty much unanswerable, because human variation is nested in groups, for their ancestry, which is based on evolutionary differences, is nested in groups. So, for example, one could delimit “Caucasians” as a race, but within that group there are genetically different and morphologically different subgroups, including Finns, southern Europeans, Bedouins, and the like. The number of human races delimited by biologists has ranged from three to over 30
How different are the races genetically?
Not very different. [......]But since the delimitation of races has historically depended Not on the degree of underlying genetic differences but Only on the existence of Some genetic difference that causes morphological difference, the genetic similarity of races Does Not mean that they Don’t exist