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Date: 10 Jul 2012

Editors’ Pick: A real Caucasian and the genetic investigation of Caucasus peoples

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Referring to Europeans as Caucasians, as still regularly done in the medical and less frequently in the population genetic literature, most often is not justified according to modern scientific views. This term, first mentioned in 1785 by Christoph Meiners, was picked up by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in his 1795 suggestion of dividing the human world population into 5 groups (Caucasians, Mongolians, Ethiopians, Americans, and Malays). Nevertheless, a Caucasian classification can still be formally correct if it refers to people who originate from the Caucasus region. One real Caucasian, the molecular anthropologist Dr. Ivan (Vano) Nasidze (Figure 1), recently passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. Although this was a huge shock for everybody who knew Vano, in particular his family and his close colleagues, the way he died seemed the preferred one for many of us similarly passionate scientists who seem unable to live without scientific work. If only, however, it would occur several dec