Current Developments in Anthropological Genetics
The conference held in 1971 on “Methods and Theories of Anthropological Genetics” (Crawford and Workman, 1973) provides a useful datum against which the current developments can be appraised. By anthropological genetics is meant the study of the genetic variation that occurs within and between human populations, its origin, and the factors and processes that maintain it. Professor Spuhler (1973), in his summing-up, echoed the feelings of all when he said that the relatively new field of anthropological genetics — a blend of general genetics and the study of human populations — which took its effective beginnings in about 1950 had just reached its majority. He picked out a number of themes that could be traced in the contributions: the characterization of breeding populations and of their gene pools; variations of population structure; systems of mating; the processes of gene frequency change; the use of the increased knowledge of polymorphisms to examine genetic distances and genetic phylogeny; and computer simulation of genetic and demographic processes. In each of these there was vigorous growth. We all agreed that, in its 21 years, anthropological genetics had come of age.
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