True Descendant of the Survivors

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Humans are everywhere. There are over 7 billion of them on this planet we call our home. And that number is still growing. But the stories of the origins of our species are the stuff of legend and are intriguing and exciting.

Modern man has his roots in the place we know today as Africa. Evidence from archaeology, anthropology and genetics all points to the fact that it was this great continent where human life took its first steps around 200,000 years ago. And they stayed put in that magnificent cradle for a while…in fact for about a good 100,000 years. That’s an important number, and to put it in perspective, just consider that of all the time humanity has spent on this planet, almost half of it was spent exclusively in Africa! But then some folks did try to venture out. In fact, many tried…

Cave paintings - impressions from history

Geographically, Africa is a vast continent with even vaster oceans surrounding it from all sides, some sides more than others. So even though many explorers would have made attempts to venture out and go on epic voyages, it’d have been really difficult, to the point of being all but impossible at that time. It’s only in the north that a few plausible routes can be identified, but those wouldn’t have been a cakewalk either, because of the blazing and brazen Sahara, and still plenty of sea to cross beyond that.

Researchers have now unearthed that the first and perhaps the only group among those early explorers that was finally able to manage to cross over their home continent did so from a very narrow region in north-east Africa into the deserts of Arabia. And all of that epic adventure was made possible due to certain rare and favourable environmental variations that existed during that time and only briefly so. And due to that lucky happenstance, a small group (estimates of a few hundred only) was finally able to venture outside their home.

Solid evidence through robust DNA analyses has proved beyond question that every single one of us humans, who isn’t an African, is a descendant of that small group of pioneers…and that is simply mind-boggling!

Haplogroups - showing our common ancestry

It takes a while for the full impact of that fact to sink in, but eventually you know that your ancestors (who evolved into somewhat varied races later on) actually descended from just a handful of audacious and courageous adventurers, who dared to go into the unknown, who challenged the status quo, and who really were the true survivors. And that’s inspirational, and enough to lift your spirits whenever you come to think of the fact that whatever challenges you’re facing these days or have faced in your entire lives (whether at work, or at home, or elsewhere), wouldn’t even come close to what your ancestors have faced and already conquered. They survived…and if you’re a true descendant of those survivors, then so can you.

© Jayant Rana, 2014
Image credit: / Ryan Somma / CC BY-SA; midwestnerd / CC BY


  1. Nicely knitted piece ..... puts the evolutionary trends and survival instincts of our 'forefathers' to test in the current globalized workplace and inspires one to take a courageous decision by challenging the status quo!

    Good going Rana saab!!

  2. Thanks for the kind words Abhinav, glad you liked it. You got the message absolutely right, it was an inspired state of mind when I jotted this piece down...glad I could share some inspiration with you.
    Our problems seem like a figment of our imagination, when put into this historical perspective. Surely, we could do better. As they say, what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger. :)

  3. Rishi Raz GuptaSunday, 15 June, 2014

    I would not say that we wont survive if put against the same odds. Some live by fighting and winning and some by running. Its mostly about choices of tools to deal with one of those odds. what if we are the replicated DNA of those who chose to run rather than fight but then that also doesn't make us less brave than anyone else coz leaping the continents has more or less equal surviving percent than fighting a natural calamity or disease. And surviving through fighting say from a disease is not always the manifestation of bravery or heroism, some times a condition of sickle cell can bring the formidable malaria to your knees. Trust me, you are no less hero than your ancestors


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