Confirmation by modern genetic studies of the traditional racial classification categories
What are the percentages of genetic differences between the human races, indicating their relationships? Perhaps the best global scale study to date on this subject is still that of Masatoshi Nei and Arun K. Roychoudhury from Evolutionary Relationships of Human Populations on a Global Scale (1993). Subsequent studies, which have included increasing numbers of alleles but have usually been regional rather than global in scale, have been consistent with Nei and Roychoudhury’s results. The following table (Fig. 1 below) of estimates of genetic differences between human populations is from their study.
The following table of percentages of genetic differences between human populations presents the estimates for 19 populations from the above table in an easier to read and understand format. The human-chimpanzee genetic difference, giving the greatest degree of difference from the commonly accepted range using the same methodology, is added for context and comparison.
If one were to spatially visualize the first column of the above scale, with a German standing at a distance of 20 feet from an Englishman, a Finn would stand at a distance of 50 feet, an Italian at 70 feet, a northern Indian at 200 feet, a Japanese at 610 feet, a North American Amerindian at 760 feet, a Nigerian at 1,330 feet, and a Chimpanzee at 16,000 feet. The greatest percentage of genetic difference is .176% between Nigerians and Australian Aborigines. This is 11% of the genetic difference of 1.6% between humans and chimpanzees, different biological Families whose ancestral lines are believed to have separated about 5.5 million years ago. The .133% genetic difference between the English and Nigerian populations is 8.3% as large as the genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees. The .061% genetic difference between the English and Japanese or Korean populations is 3.8% as large as the genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees. Seen in this context, these are very significant genetic differences. It is also worth noting that for both the English and the Japanese, representing Europeans and Northeast Asians, the greatest percentage of genetic difference is with the Nigerians, and that the degree of this difference, .133% for the English and .149% for the Japanese, is very similar. By comparison, the English and Japanese degree of difference from the Australian Aborigine population, .122% for the English and .062% for the Japanese, is very different, with the English-Australoid difference twice as great as the Japanese-Australoid difference, presumably explained by the more recent divergence of the Mongoloid and Australoid branches and the extent of their common Denisovan mixture (see above).
The phylogenetic tree below, presenting a visual schematic of the genetic relationship between the different human populations, is also from the 1993 study by Nei and Roychoudhury.
As seen in the above phylogenetic tree the major genetic divisions or branches of human populations are Africans (A), Caucasians (B), Greater Asians (C), Amerindians (D) and Australopapuans (E). Genetic studies have consistently grouped the populations of humanity into superclusters and clusters, or main branches and sub-branches, that are consistent with the traditional classification of racial divisions and subdivisions. The Caucasian branch on the tree (B) has a main European sub-branch (76) which includes the Lapps or Sami of the Arctic region, then a separate sub-Arctic European sub-branch (75), then a separate Northern European sub-branch (56) which has a northwest European branch (92) represented by the English and German samples.