Vol. 2, # 51
December 31, 2005

Q: What is the human race/races? - Layperson

A: There is only one human race with 5 generally accepted subclassifications-Black, Brown, Red, White, Yellow, and an infinite number of admixtures. The human race is classified under the following scientific classification:

Fossil range: {{{fossil_range}}}
Scientific classification
Domain: {{{domain}}}
Superkingdom: {{{superregnum}}}
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: {{{subregnum}}}
Superdivision: {{{superdivisio}}}
Superphylum: {{{superphylum}}}
Division: {{{divisio}}}
Phylum: Chordata
Subdivision: {{{subdivisio}}}
Subphylum: {{{subphylum}}}
Infraphylum: {{{infraphylum}}}
Microphylum: {{{microphylum}}}
Nanophylum: {{{nanophylum}}}
Superclass: {{{superclassis}}}
Class: Mammalia
Sublass: {{{subclassis}}}
Infraclass: {{{infraclassis}}}
Superorder: {{{superordo}}}
Order: Primates
Suborder: {{{subordo}}}
Infraorder: {{{infraordo}}}
Superfamily: Hominoidea
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Supertribe: {{{supertribus}}}
Tribe: Hominini
Subtribe: {{{subtribus}}}
Genus: Homo
Subgenus: {{{subgenus}}}
Section: {{{sectio}}}
Series: {{{series}}}
Species: H. sapiens
Supspecies: {{{subspecies}}}
Binomial name
Homo sapiens
Linnaeus, 1758
Trinomial name
Type Species
Homo sapiens idaltu (extinct)
Homo sapiens sapiens

A race is a population of humans distinguished from other populations. The most widely used racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color and facial features). Conceptions of race, as well as specific racial groupings, vary by culture and time and are often controversial due to their impact on social identity and hence identity politics.

With the advent of the modern synthesis in the early 20th century, biologists developed a new, more rigorous model of race as subspecies. For these biologists, a race is a recognizable group forming all or part of a species. A monotypic species has no races, or rather one race comprising the whole species. Monotypic species can occur in several ways:

  • All members of the species are very similar and cannot be sensibly divided into biologically significant subcategories.
  • The individuals vary considerably but the variation is essentially random and largely meaningless so far as genetic transmission of these variations is concerned (many plant species fit into this category, which is why horticulturists interested in preserving, say, a particular flower color avoid propagation from seed, and instead use vegetative methods like propagation from cuttings).
  • The variation between individuals is noticeable and follows a pattern, but there are no clear dividing lines between separate groups: they fade imperceptibly into one another. Such clinal variation always indicates substantial gene flow between the apparently separate groups that make up the population(s). Populations that have a steady, substantial gene flow between them are likely to represent a monotypic species even when a fair degree of genetic variation is obvious.

A polytypic species has two or more races (or, in current parlance, two or more sub-types). This classification reflects separate groups that are clearly distinct from one another and do not generally interbreed (although there may be a relatively narrow hybridization zone), but which would interbreed freely if given the chance to do so. Although different species can sometimes interbreed to a limited extent, the converse is not true. Groups incapable of producing fertile offspring with each other are universally considered distinct species, and not merely different "races" of the same species.

Although this attempt at conceptual precision gained currency with many biologists, especially zoologists, evolutionary scientists have criticized it on a number of fronts.

The different raceial subclassifications are often popularly defined and named (often very inaccurately) by skin color, but as this system is based on only one genetic difference, when thousands are involved, it tends to distort the reality of race and racial subclassification differences. In the system of racial subclassification outlined below the names assigned to the various subspecies and races are, with a few exceptions, based on geographical regions that are, or presumably were, at or near the center of their area of evolutionary development and origin.

Outline of Human Racial Subclassification:
I. Capoid or Khoisanid Subspecies of southern Africa
A. Khoid (Hottentot) race
B. Sanid (Bushmen) race
II. Congoid Subspecies of sub-Saharan Africa
A. Central Congoid race (Geographic center and origin in the Congo river basin)
1. Palaecongoid subrace (the Congo river basin: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Angola)
2. Sudanid subrace (western Africa: Niger, Mali, Senegal, Guinea)
3. Nilotid subrace (southern Sudan; the ancient Nubians were of this subrace)
4. Kafrid or Bantid subrace (east and south Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Natal)
B. Bambutid race (African Pygmies)
C. Aethiopid race (Ethiopia, Somalia; hybridized with Caucasoids)
III. Caucasoid or Europid Subspecies (Geographic distribution centered in the Caucasus mountains)
A. Mediterranid race
1. West Mediterranean or Iberid subrace (Spain, Portugal, Corsica, Sardinia, and coastal areas of Morocco and Tunisia; the Atlanto-Mediterranean peoples who expanded over much of the Atlantic coastal regions of Europe during the Mesolithic period were a branch of this subrace)
2. East Mediterranean or Pontid subrace (Black Sea coast of Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria; Aegean coasts of Greece and Turkey)
3. Dinaricized Mediterraneans (Residual mixed types resulting from the blending of Mediterranids with Dinarics, Alpines or Armenids; not a unified type, has much regional variation; predominant element [over 60%] in Sicily and southern Italy, principal element in Turkey [35%], important element in western Syria, Lebanon and central Italy, common in northern Italy. The ancient Cappadocian Mediterranean subrace of Anatolia was dinaricized during the Bronze Age [second millennium B.C.] and is a major contributor to this type in modern Turkey.)
4. South Mediterranean or Saharid subrace (predominant in Algeria and Libya, important in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt)
5. Orientalid or Arabid subrace (predominant in Arabia, major element from Egypt to Syria, primary in northern Sudan, important in Iraq, predominant element among the Oriental Jews)
B. Dinaric race (predominant in western Balkans [Dinaric Mountains] and northern Italy, important in the Czech Republic, eastern and southern Switzerland, western Austria and eastern Ukraine)
C. Alpine race (predominant element in Luxembourg, primary in Bavaria and Bohemia, important in France, Hungary, eastern and southern Switzerland)
D. Ladogan race (named after Lake Ladoga; indigenous to Russia; includes Lappish subrace of arctic Europe)
E. Nordish or Northern European race (various subraces in the British Isles, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Belgium; predominant element in Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Finland and the Baltic States; majority in Austria and Russia; minority in France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary; outlined in detail in The Nordish Race)
F. Armenid race (predominant element in Armenia, common in Syria, Lebanon and northern Iraq, primary element among the Ashkenazic Jews)
G. Turanid race (partially hybridized with Mongoloids; predominant element in Kazakhstan.; common in Hungary and Turkey)
H. Irano-Afghan race (predominant in Iran and Afghanistan, primary element in Iraq, common [25%] in Turkey)
I. Indic or Nordindid race (Pakistan and northern India)
J. Dravidic race (India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka [Ceylon]; ancient stabilized Indic-Veddoid [Australoid] blend)
IV. Australoid Subspecies
A. Veddoid race (remnant Australoid population in central and southern India)
B. Negritos (remnants in Malaysia and the Philippines)
C. Melanesian race (New Guinea, Papua, Solomon Islands)
D. Australian-Tasmanian race (Australian Aborigines)
V. Mongoloid Subspecies
A. Northeast Asian race (various subraces in China, Manchuria, Korea and Japan)
B. Southeast Asian race (various subraces in Indochina, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, some partly hybridized with Australoids)
C. Micronesian-Polynesian race (hybridized with Australoids)
D. Ainuid race (remnants of aboriginal population in northern Japan)
E. Tungid race (Mongolia and Siberia, Eskimos)
F. Amerindian race (American Indians; various subraces) 
Dominant or predominant = over 60% majority
Majority or major = 50-60% majority
Principal or primary = 25-49% plurality; less than a majority, but most numerous racial type
Important = 25-49% minority; not most numerous racial type
Common = 5-25% minority
Minor = less than 5% minority
In short, the similiarities of the different racial subclassifications is much, much greater than the diiffernces.  In as little as 2,000-4,000 years, these subclassifications will no longer exist.


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