The African San people have been found to be the most ancient race in the world in a huge genetic study.
1:16PM BST 02 May 2009
The people, who have lived as hunter-gatherers for thousands of years, are the direct relations of early modern humans who migrated from the continent to spread their DNA throughout the world.
A study by the University of Pennsylvania has found all populations descended from just 14 ancient African populations.
Researchers discovered the genetic DNA of The San people was more diverse than any other group, suggesting they have survived longer than any other group.
The first humans evolved in southern Africa, probably near the South Africa-Namibia border, and today the continent has more genetic variation than anywhere else on Earth.
Nearly three-fourths of African-Americans can trace their ancestry to West Africa, according to the analysis published in the online edition of the journal Science.
It is the largest study of African genetics ever undertaken. Over 10 years, Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania and an international team of researchers trekked across Africa collecting samples to compare the genes of various peoples.
“Given the fact that modern humans arose in Africa, they have had time to accumulate dramatic changes in their genes,” said lead researcher.
“Everybody’s history is part of African history because everybody came out of Africa,” said Muntaser Ibrahim of the department of molecular biology at the University of Khartoum, Sudan.