Geographer: “Races are Different Species”
A PUBLIC CLAIM by a fellow of the prestigious Royal Geographic Society that humans did not all come from Africa — and that blacks, whites and Asians have different ancestors — has been dismissed by world experts as “dangerous,” “wrong” and “racist.” (ILLUSTRATION: Two women, two species? Women from New Guinea and Greece respectively.)
In a paper widely trumpeted and due for release in book form, Akhil Bkshai, the leader of a recent major scientific expedition supported by India’s prime minister, claims that “Negroid,” “Caucasian” and “Mongoloid” peoples are not only separate races but separate species, having evolved on different continents. Responding to the claims — developed while Bakshi led the Gondwanaland expedition from India to South Africa — Professor Lee Berger, a leading palaeoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, immediately insisted that, there were no fundamental differences between the races and that all humans had the same genetic and physical roots in Africa.
The prevalent scientific theory of modern humans — the “Out of Africa” model — is that they left Africa just 55,000 years ago and replaced the last remnants of other ancient hominids living in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
The old biological racial distinctions of “Caucasian,” “Negroid” and “Mongoloid” have recently been abandoned by mainstream scientists — removed, for instance, from the US National Library of Medicine in 2003.
Bakshi has become a self-declared champion of a minority scientific view called “multiregionalism”, which claims that modern humans evolved from separate hominid populations. Hominids encompass all humans and the ancient family of human-like ancestors, including large-brained ancient ancestors and unsuccessful species such as Neanderthals.
However, Bakshi — who has no training as an anthropologist — has linked to this model a theory that these populations evolved according to the genetic material left behind when the prehistoric supercontinents, the northern Laurasia and the southern Gondwanaland, broke up. An influential figure in India, Bakshi is also a filmmaker and author who has led four major scientific expeditions since 1994. Bakshi admitted to the Sunday Times that “some of my points may prove to be wrong, and may be seen as politically incorrect.
He claims indigenous “Negroid” populations occur in places like Australia, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the Andaman Islands not because they moved there from Africa, but because all these land masses were once part of Gondwanaland — and that all evolved separately. Whites, according to Bakshi, are from Laurasia and blacks are from Gondwanaland. He argues that, 60,000 years ago, humans could not have crossed vast oceans and deserts to reach remote places like Australia and North America, and they must therefore have evolved there.
“His is a highly confused argument which jumps enormous levels, which are quite impossible to link,” Tobias said. However, he added that the true picture of modern humanity’s precise departure from Africa was far from clear-cut.