The Journey of Man – Redux 15 Years On By Spencer Wells

I can’t believe that is has been 15 years since Spencer Wells wrote The Journey of Man – but it has.

For those who aren’t familiar, this groundbreaking book and documentary were the first of their kind, serving as incredible inspiration as well as a boon for DNA testing.

If you haven’t seen the documentary, and even if you have, I’d strongly recommend watching on YouTube, here.  The YouTube version is half an hour longer than the National Geographic documentary because about one third of the original PBS version, now available on YouTube, got left on the cutting room floor when the Nat Geo documentary was produced.

I watched the original documentary several years ago and I enjoyed watching this version every bit as much.

For an upcoming Insitome podcast later in January, Spencer, along with Razib Khan, is going to revisit The Journey of Man.  So very much has been learned in the past 15 years, even though it does seem only like the blink of an eye.

Questions for Spencer?

After watching the original Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey video, do you have questions for Spencer?

If so, you’re in luck, because Spencer is asking for your input.

From Spencer:

For this Journey of Man Redux episode, we’d love to get your thoughts on what we should include – questions left unanswered in the film/book, peoples or places we should look at in greater detail, or simply your favorite scenes.

Spencer will be following along!

This is an extremely rare opportunity to have your questions addressed by the founder of the Genographic Project.  I guarantee you, I have a list of questions!

A New Neanderthal

The Insitome podcasts are available at the iTunes store, here. Depending on your computer, you may only need to click on the blue “Podcast website” link on the bottom left.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to install iTunes on your system.  Click on “View in iTunes,” following the prompts to install iTunes on your PC.  Then, after iTunes is installed, click on the “Podcast website” link.

As luck would have it, today, Spencer is introducing the podcast, “Neander-Me, Part 1” focused on “what it means to be 2% Neanderthal that includes an interview with John Hawks via Skype from the Rising Star excavation in South Africa last fall.”

Part 2 of this series is scheduled to follow next week.



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14 thoughts on “The Journey of Man – Redux 15 Years On By Spencer Wells

  1. Question for Spencer Wells: Through the NatGeo Geno 2 Project, my husband received his DNA results from Helix last Nov. His maternal Haplotype: J1B1A1. His paternal Haplotype: R-L265. However, when we click on the “Deep Ancestry” section, then click on “Paternal Line,” we end up at M269, not R-L265. Why are we not seeing a Paternal Line that ends in R-L265 ? I suspect that the R-L265 might be a rare subclade of M269, but I am begging for a professional opinion, please! (The Genographic Project was “unable to assist” us.) Thank you in advance for your clarification, Spencer. You will also be helping my husband’s female cousin, who has no males to test. Smiles!

  2. Another question for Spencer Wells: I am reading “The Seven Daughters of Eve,” by Bryan Sykes. Since this was published back in 2001, has this theory/hypothesis that “almost all people of native European descent can trace their ancestry back to 1 of these 7 women” held up to current genetic science? Thanks again!

  3. Terrific! The Journey of Man film featured on television fascinated me so much I could hardly wait to get started on genetic genealogy myself. And here I am still working at solving my own ancestral trails 15 years later. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

  4. Roberta, this video is NOT captioned. I have a hearing loss (so do millions of other people) and need captions to derive full benefit from the dialogue. So, it’s basically useless to me.

  5. How was Dr. Wells able to determine how small a group of people survived the crossing from present day Russia to Alaska and become the Indian inhabtants of North and South America?

  6. Has any DNA test done on the tribes in the Andaman Islands? Many of these tribes are not in contact with anyone? If yes what is their story? Do they have links to the Aborigine people of Australia and the Dravidians of South India.

  7. The dot between the word “explained” and “com” is not in the address received in an email notice so you cannot read the blog on line.

  8. The travels of our ancestors is breathtaking. Please add the female lines to that of the male lines. Thank you.

  9. In the original Genographic test I had more Denisovan than Neaderthal. The more recent Genographic test dropped the Denisovan results. Can you explain the reason for that? Is there a good article that one can use to see if you have Denisovan ancestry? I have a full genome test to 15X that I can use to compare to such an article.

    Thanks for your work.

  10. My husband’s Y-DNA is H-M52, and I believe this is only lightly touched upon in the original Journey of Man. Any chance the H haplogroup can be expanded upon? It seems to be underrepresented at FTDNA, at least compared to my father’s R-M222, and I’d love to get a better handle on my understanding of H-M52. Thank you for the video and revisiting it! I am enjoying your podcasts.

  11. With the explosion of successful ancient DNA sequencing, do you anticipate incorporating other ancient reference groups? Of particular interest to me is the Achavanich Beaker Burial in North East Scotland. The analysis of the DNA for 400+ sets of Ancient European remains (about half were Beaker) was published in February, 2018. I assume that this is the tip of the iceberg. Do you think any of the genomic testing companies will enter this market and how soon? What problems do you think could emerge?

  12. Interestingly enough. My paternal side is H-M52 and maternal is UA51 ( cheddar man) dna says 100% Persian from AncestryDNA. I’m a walking fossil.

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