Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Human Migration

I like this map of the spread of humans across the planet.

The projection (some kind of oblique mercator?) [UPDATE: it's a Dymaxion map, apparently.] makes the course of human migration seem like the natural consequence of the spatial relationships between the continents - which of course is just what it was. (It also makes the hypothesized route to North America actually seem like easily the most sensible way to get from Europe to the New World, though I don't know what that dashed line is indicating; it seems to be suggesting that Europeans were emigrating to eastern Greenland during the Stone Age, but I've never heard of such a thing.)

The blue hatchmarked lines indicate the extent of ice and tundra during the last ice age. The numbers are thousand of years before the present, and the corresponding colored arcs on the map indicate the spread of humans at those times. According to this map, migration was most rapid through ice-free southern Asia. People actually arrived in Australia before they ever made it to Europe, which climatically was not nearly as rosy as it is today. It took still longer to make it to northeastern Asia, and then the Western Hemisphere was the last area to become populated when a land bridge allowed people to cross over from Asia.

The letters indicate mitochondrial DNA haplogroups. If they mean something to you, then bully. If not, I'm afraid I'm not qualified to explain them. I do like the map's pretty colors, though.


pfly said...

Looks like some kind of Dymaxion projection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dymaxion_map

Benjamin said...

Yes, it is a Dyxmaxion map. The website of origin is here :


Chachy said...

Duly noted. Thanks guys!

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