Spencer Wells studies human diversity — the process by which humanity, which springs from a single common source, has become so astonishingly diverse and widespread.

Why you should listen

By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended
from a single man
who lived in Africa around 60,000 to 90,000 years ago. Now, Wells is working on the follow-up question: How did this man, sometimes called "Ychromosomal Adam," become the multicultural, globe-spanning body of life known as humanity?

Wells was recently named project director of the National Geographic Society's multiyear Genographic Project, which uses DNA samples to trace human migration out of Africa. In his 2002 book The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, he shows how genetic data can trace human migrations over the past 50,000 years, as our ancestors wandered out of Africa to fill up the continents of the globe.

More news and ideas from Spencer Wells

Building a family tree for all humanity: Spencer Wells on TED.com

August 18, 2008

All humans share some common bits of DNA, passed down to us from our African ancestors. Geneticist Spencer Wells talks about how his Genographic Project will use this shared DNA to figure out how we are — in all our diversity — truly connected. (Recorded June 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania. Duration: 20:53) Watch Spencer Well’s […]

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