Since we homo sapiens (and all other species) are continuously evolving, are humans undergoing speciation based on our environment? OR has there been any difference across people that could say speciation has already happened?

PS: I am asking this question because I have recently seen a documentary in which some Chinese anthropologists claim that Chinese people are a different species altogether. Ref: Incredible human journey (Section Asia)


marked as duplicate by fileunderwater, Bez, Chris, rg255, WYSIWYG Dec 15 '14 at 15:31

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    $\begingroup$ We are continuously evolving and a speciation could occur, but, by any definition of species that I am aware of, all populations of humans can be considered one species - generally accepted that for two to be considered different species they should not produce viable offspring (though as you alluded to in your other Q - speciation borders are hazy) $\endgroup$ – rg255 Dec 15 '14 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ From the wiki entry: "The study initially hypothesised that the modern Chinese population evolved from Homo erectus in China but concluded that the Chinese people did in fact evolve and migrate from Africa like the rest of world's population." $\endgroup$ – rg255 Dec 15 '14 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking if Homo sapiens is undergoing speciation right now? $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Dec 15 '14 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ See also Does it make sense to classify all humans in a single species? $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Sep 21 '17 at 15:21

While its possible humans could speciate into two distinct groups at some point in the future, it hasn't happened recently (100 kya) and it doesn't seem to be happening now. If it were happening we would see two or more distinct populations that didn't interbreed and over time accumulated increasing differences.

These skin colors track most of the evolution we've done in the last hundred thousand years or so, and none of the people from different parts of the globe have any difficulty reproducing with any of the others. If speciation is happening it hasn't happened yet. I doubt speciation could happen given how much gene transfer there was between populations just on foot and boat, never mind planes and trains. Although, speciation does not require physical isolation to occur. See Wallace Effect and sympatric speciation. If there's enough pressure agaist hybridization, human speciation could occur. Think blue collar versus white collar worker and the disappearing middle class.

Speciation has certainly happened with humans before. Not with 'evolutionarily modern' humans, but 'evolutionarily modern' is mostly defined as 'humans since the last speciation event', so that's tautological. But Homo erectus, the neanderthals, the denisovans, et cetera(seriously, there's a lot of Homo species) were all descendants from one common ancestor.

As for the idea that Chinese people are a different species, or descended from Homo erectus? See the geneticist from the documentary who mapped out the genetics of the Chinese population. Archeological and skeletal evidence is easily blurred, but the genetics can't be explained without an out of africa theory.


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