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One Human Species

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© AMNH / Denis Finnin

A large interactive map charts the migration of modern humans from Africa more than 150,000 years ago across the entire globe.

After several million years of human evolution, only one hominid species remains: Homo sapiens. We have spread across every continent into a wide range of environments--and in the process, minor differences between people living in separate regions developed over the course of thousands of years. As a result, humans today have a variety of skin colors, body types and facial features. But studies of human DNA reveal that all humans are remarkably similar--we are 99.9% genetically identical.

One in a thousand

Only one out of every thousand bits of DNA information differs between any two people. The other 999 of these chemical units, abbreviated as A, T, C and G, are identical. Altogether, human DNA contains more than three billion information units. This information shapes the development and function of nearly everything about the human body.

Our earliest migrations

Soon after modern humans evolved in Africa more than 150,000 years ago, some of them began spreading across the continent. Later, many waves of modern humans flowed out of Africa. Over thousands of years they journeyed across seas and mountain ranges. In each new home, they learned to find and eat local foods and to survive different climate conditions. This map shows probable pathways of the very earliest human movements to different regions--countless later migrations mixed these early groups with one another. The map is based on information from fossilized bones, ancient artifacts and the DNA of living people all over the world.

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