I've been studying evolution for some time and was wondering whether the emergence of different races is an example of micro evolution within our species?
Bonus Question: is it impossible for homo sapiens to undergo to split into separate species via macro evolution? I think it's impossible since were so interconnected (due to globalization and transportation), therefore speciation could not occur.


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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE. If you don't mind me asking the question, what source (websites, books, etc...) did you use to study evolution? $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 5, 2017 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ I took Gr. 11 biology. As for internet sources I used 'Understanding Evolution' and 'Talk Origins'. I also glanced at the occasional youtube video. $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2017 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ Racial differentiation is illusory. We form a continuum that is currently understood better by some sociologists than by most biologists, regrettably. $\endgroup$
    – lauir
    Jun 5, 2017 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but no humans are not plausibly going to diverge into separate species based on pre existing races. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2020 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


Micro- and macro- evolution are terms vaguely referencing to arbitrary time scales

The terms microevolution and macroevolution have rather arbitrary and unclear meaning. For this reason, they are rarely used in the scientific literature. When they are being used, it is often in the first part of the introduction where general statements for which inaccuracy matters little are being made.

Typically, the existence of lineages called races (but see below) within a greater lineage called a species are limit cases between what one would want to call macro evolution or micro evolution. But in essence, it really does not matter where such arbitrary boundary is put, it changes nothing to evolutionary processes at play.

The concept of ethnic group

Note also that the concept of race (generally called ethnic group) is a human made concept that sometimes fail to match the reality of population structure in humans. If we were to name lineages based on genetic differentiation rather than socio-cultural cues, we would, if I am not mistaken, end up with a reasonably different result.

Bonus question

For your bonus question, you'll probably want to have a look at the post Does it make sense to classify all humans in a single species? and the post How could humans have interbred with Neanderthals if we're a different species? who discusses the concept of species.

You are right that the increased migration rate brought about by globalization causes increase interbreeding between humans lineages and will therefore rather prevent any further population structure that would have otherwise eventually lead to an event of speciation. There is, for the moment, no sign that any human speciation would evolve any reproductive barrier with any other human lineages. We are for the moment far from any speciation event in humans.

  • $\begingroup$ For the bonus question, would Homo floresiensis qualify as a species evolved from H. sapiens, or did both evolve from some precursor species? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jun 5, 2017 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ I guess it is mainly a matter of what you decide to call Homo sapiens. As H. floresiensis is not called H. sapiens floriensis, I must be considered as a a sister lineage of H. sapiens and not a subspecies. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 5, 2017 at 15:53

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