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Why are there different races?

We all have the same homo-sapian ancestor, so why are humans so diverse?

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3 Answers


Over the course of evolution genome and epigenome have  interacted with environment driving speciation (formation of new species) as well as variation in particular species. Races are the likely outcome of such quantitative and qualitative interactions.
 
Human beings as well as animals are attracted towards morphological variations, for instance a Caucasian person might find an oriental partner more attractive. Such mating (biological term for marriage or union) would lead to genetic variations and rise of mixed race that may stabilize to a newer race over the time.
 
Laboratory mouse (mus musculus) is only one species yet there are many coat-colors!
 
Likewise human races have evolved in response to natural and man-made(mating) factors! Morgan has very nicely explained some of these factors.
 
Hope this additional information and example will be helpful as well.
 
 
 
I know there are various answers to this question, but the one I'm most familiar with is related to geographic isolation (can't remember the precise ecological term). Basically, as people separated into various regions across time, and the generations grew and diversified, the individual populations began having traits more and more suited to their environment as well as neutral traits simply unique to them. For instance, populations historically closer to the equator developed darker skin in response to the more prolonged and intense sunlight. I imagine that other traits (eye shape, for instance) simply emerged as different over time without necessarily serving any particular purpose.
Take a very serious look at the question that you wrote.
 
There are many, various "scientific" and "religious" views regarding that "first" "homo sapian ancestor."  Note: all of the quote marks are because no one has or ever can produce physical evidence that we all have a single, same ancestor (like Lucy and others).  All we have are statements about the past and theories and conjecture (which makes believing it a matter of faith); of course, none of it can be replicated, or tested, as the scientific process requires.
 
Therefore, logically, the "why are" portion of the question also allows for diverse conjecture.  Yes, we can observe differences, but we only guess at the "why."  There cannot be a right or wrong answer to such a question.  As a silly joke, people used to ask a good man, "When did you stop beating your wife?"  All of the answers that you hear or read will be conjecture.  Some answers will be very creative thinking.
 
The silliest reasons sound like, "because they needed it."  Here is an example: "Early animals needed eyes in order to quit bumping into things.  So, they started growing them."
 
Now, the real questions becomes, "Why are there such similarities between people and such distinct differences between people and animals?  Why are species of animals so very different?  Shouldn't there be a continuum of varieties from one extreme characteristic to the other extreme characteristic?"  This sounds like the question, "Where's the 'missing link?'"  Well, we haven't found one, the fossil record doesn't have one, ..., no one has ever or can produce one.
 
We can observe a limited amount of physical change; for example when identical twins eat different food, get different amount of exercise, live in different climates, etc.   But, the question you posed said "diverse" and that wouldn't explain it.

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Thanks for breaking down my question without actually answering it. I am sure that you knew what my question meant, as other responders answered it wonderfully. Your response was patronizing; I hope you don't speak to your students like that! I always was told that there is "no such thing as a dumb question," but clearly you do not subscribe to that philosophy. All I was asking was how there are different races of human, when we are all in-fact genetically human. What caused Africans to look different from Asians? What caused Caucasians to be taller than Middle Easterners/Latin Americans? This was the essence of my question. I was looking for a response explaining genes or maybe the theory, (or your favorite word, "conjecture") of Evolution to present an explanation regarding why humans have a variety of skin tones/characteristics/features depending on their deriving geographic location. 
 
Thankfully, I received helpful replies below. As a student, I would really dislike your teaching based on your patronizing, unhelpful and pedantic response. 
Well, I certainly do agree that "there is no such thing as a stupid question," if, in fact, it is asked with a serious desire to learn.  You were a serious student when you submitted this question and I pointed out to you that the question itself (not you in any way) had some flaws: (1) it assumes, or presumes, "the same ... ancestor," but "genetically human" certainly doesn't mean that there is a single first one and some religious teaching says "Adam and Eve" and scientists have sought long and hard (and made up cases like Lucy) to find one, and (2) if indeed there are small, continuous developments, then we should observe a far more diverse population of people and animals, not just groups, like species.  How did they jump from one species to another without the many intermediate ones surviving or leaving fossils?
 
Other tutors used words like "likely outcome" and "I imagine."  You are sharp enough to catch that.  Do those words explain "Why?"  Instead, I simply said, "no."  We can't observe (as the scientific method requires) because it is history.  We can't create a duplicate experiment (not enough time and not similar circumstances)....  So, any answer to the question, "Why?" is supposition, conjecture, reasoning, ...  You are sharp enough to realize that no proof was offered.
 
Now, if you will permit me, I'll agree with you that teachers/tutors might give stupid answers to serious questions.  For example, "They grew eyes so they would quit bumping into each other."  The other answers were not "wonderful."  They were reasoning, guessing, ..., conjecture (that's not exactly my favorite word).  Students deserve better than that.  If teachers/tutors don't know an answer, they should be allowed to say they don't know, to say they will look it up, to say they will study the question some more, ... and to challenge students to find answers that can be discussed.
 
I think that you would be an absolutely delightful student!  Our educational system suffers by not letting any student get too far behind or too far ahead (because of limited resources -- time, money, etc.) and pushes students to what I call the "mediocre middle."  That is very sad.  Obviously, you speak up when you think your question is not answered -- good for you.  Keep it polite with a desire to learn and I'll learn with you and be glad to share everything I know.  You are "my kind of student."