Physical and Environmental: Human Biology and Diversity pp. 3-16
Authors: (Daniel E. Brown)
Abstract: Humans are arguably the most widespread species on earth, a characteristic that would usually lead to great biological diversity in the species. Yet the amount of genetic variability of Homo sapiens is much less than that of most other primate species. This relative lack of biological diversity is due to our reliance on our behavior to deal with adaptation to the external environment. The idea that humans fall into a few (usually listed as three to five) biological ―races‖ is based on the supposition that human biological diversity ―clumps‖ into large, continental groups. This chapter presents evidence that human biological diversity is clinal – distributed in gradients over geographical distances – as opposed to clumped, and that therefore the notion of human biological races is not supported scientifically. The chapter also shows that the characteristics commonly associated with human races, such as skin color, are literally superficial. The great reliance on our behavior to adapt to our surroundings has led to much greater behavioral variability, with the distribution of behavioral differences based on cultures and culture areas. If race is understood as a sociocultural concept, then it does have validity for humans, although use of terms that are specific to behavioral differences, such as culture or ethnicity, are more appropriate since they do not imply a biological basis for the categorization.