The global human – II

By Razib Khan | October 30, 2010 10:15 pm

global2A reader pointed me to a second composite image of a “global human.” It is “a composite itself from four composite of Northwest European, South & West Asian, East Asian and African faces….” I was very taken aback by this face, because it was familiar: staring back at me is a younger variant of the faces of my maternal uncles! I asked a friend who has met my family their impression of the photo without a preface, and they immediately wondered if it was a stylized representation of one of my mother’s male relatives.


Comments (26)

  1. ChH
  2. Konkvistador

    Its not that surprising most humans alive today are of the Eurasian (and its Ameridian offshoot) variety phenotypically with the Caucasoid groups leading slightly in pure numbers. Even in Africa the East African more Caucasoid “Asiatic” Negroid type has a hundred million or two under its belt. Your family (and your ancestral population in general) has some East Asian admixture so that nudges your a bit their way. Also Indian populations have some tropical adaptations meaning some similarities with say African and Indonesian populations.

    Someone from the Guianas may have a similar feeling (due to the Indian, East Asian, Europea, Ameridian and African mixtures there) looking at his own family, though there the case is so more due to recent admixture.

    What I find somewhat funny is how some people tend to take these composites as a picture of the future “cosmic race”. This is ridiculous. Even ignoring the laws of hereditary when it comes to appearance and assuming there is no selection effect on different features one still needs to look at the time scales on which a blending of races would take place and take note of the differential birth rates.

    We can’t project indefinitely but lets say three decade predictions are not completely useless and lets assume there is no quick rebound in fertility after the demographic transition in the works. If one takes there to be a hundred million or so more Ameridian, a billion more African, and say 500 million more Indian, and a hundred million less European faces in a composite of a “future human” one would get a much better if still deeply flawed picture.

    Though I wonder despite India’s increase in the population would the decline of Western Eurasians (Central Asians and Middle Easterners without outliers like Afganistan are generally following European fertility trends) and the stagnation and future decline of Eastern Eurasians mean that face would be more or less similar to your extended family considering the near doubling of people with African features?

  3. Twilightened

    This scarily looks like me. Except that it is too symmetrical and perfect. I am not 🙂

  4. onur

    It is “a composite itself from four composite of Northwest European, South & West Asian, East Asian and African faces….”

    Grouping together West Asians and South Asians certainly isn’t a good idea. The two regions should have their own composites separately.

    The composites presented as “West Asian” male and female composites in the site Matt gave link to* are much more South Asian than anything else (they may even be completely from South Asia), so they don’t represent West Asia.


  5. Sandgroper

    I don’t want to be in any way offensive, but is there a point to this?

    Genes are discrete, not blending (although I get the thing about reverting to the mean). Most of us already have black hair and brown eyes, so it’s down to skin tone and features. And the average never exists in reality, apart from Razib’s uncles.

    Both of the ‘global humans’ posted are physically attractive, which I guess is vaguely encouraging, but aside from that, what is the point? That the future will not be predominantly white, blue eyed and blonde or red haired? Didn’t we already know that? Is any sensible person seriously worried by that?

    Just asking.

  6. He looks like a Surinamese-Dutch guy.

  7. Sandgroper

    Interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, he could look like lots of things, which is notoriously environment-contingent. It’s a pointless exercise, unless you perceive “different from me” as in some way threatening, distasteful or offensive. Which I never have, quite the contrary. I had no wish to marry anyone who looked like my mother or sister. Usually there is a financial element – it’s more commercial than racial – see this idiot post by Ponto here – to him it’s all about government hand-out money #16 Noel Pearson, someone Ponto would identify as a Yellow, but at least Noel has a brain and legal training, advocates no hand outs to people like Ponto.

    Although I did find one of my first cousins very endearing. But we lacked the contact to form any kind of friendship. Plus we were both very wary of the genetic closeness, and the social taboos prohibited any kind of friendship+.

    We both ended up marrying Chinese, maybe partially as a function of that wariness. So what? We’re both happy, we both have good kids, and we still regard each other warmly and respectfully. This race stuff on a non-medical or historical level gets boring after a while. It’s nice to know where people come from, but once that’s out of the way, so what? Diversity is fun, and interactingwith different cultures is fun and funny. And I remain a strong advocate of interacial marriage, I think it should be compulsory, for cultural rather than genetic reasons (or maybe both). But that’s about it.

  8. My, that is one attractive fellow. He looks decidedly Hispanic to me, which I suppose shouldn’t be surprising since Hispanics are already highly mixed people with Asian, African, and European ancestry. However, if you squint, he can look a bit Indian (or Italian, or mulatto, or hapa, or…).

  9. Sandgroper

    Go for it, Michelle. Except he doesn’t exist. Hence my original question – what’s the pont?

  10. Though I wonder despite India’s increase in the population would the decline of Western Eurasians (Central Asians and Middle Easterners without outliers like Afganistan are generally following European fertility trends)

    this is false. southern india’s TFR is replacement or sub, just as turkey, iran, and tunisia. northern india’s is like pakistan, the arabian peninsula, syria, iraq.

    this is probably why this sort of stuff is useful. it gives people a gestalt comprehension of demographics if they don’t have a good natural intuition, like the commenter above.

    the reason they’re physically attractive is that average composites are always better looking than the median. they don’t naturally have the asymmetric biases that a normal person does.

  11. Antonio

    “I had no wish to marry anyone who looked like my mother or sister.” me too: we need something new 🙂

  12. i’m sure sandgropper was joking, but let me add that there should be no compulsion in mating 🙂 do as thou wilt.

  13. FWIW, Sandgroper, my boyfriend looks astonishingly like this composite man, only slightly less symmetrical and with a hooked nose.

  14. I could use this image for my upcoming job-interview – anybody know the source of the component images?

  15. Sandgroper

    Excellent. You found a real one 🙂

    Nothing wrong with hooked noses, either.

    Yes, I was joking, I don’t go for any kind of compulsion. I was reading about the Love Commandos – what a great idea.

  16. Yep! this is more more like it than number I.

  17. You think so, Blackbird? They look so alike to me that the differences seem negligible. The original one had more ‘chiseled’ features, but I had chalked that up to the fact that it appeared to be a pencil drawing.

  18. Katharine

    Sandgroper, as much as I support interracial marriage, making it compulsory just defeats the purpose. People are supposed to be happy with whom they marry. Me, I prefer fellow pale-faced Europeans when it comes to the idea of being more-than-friends with a guy; men of other descents just don’t tickle my fancy in that way.

  19. Katharine, if you read his later comments he mentioned that he was joking.

  20. You know how they find the center of the U.S. population (I think it’s in Indiana right now) by acting as if everybody stood on a map of the U.S. and finding the balance point?

    You could do the same for a world map or an Old World Map. It would be interesting if Bangladesh came out near the middle, which might not be unlikely considering the huge number of people in East Asia.

  21. cantthinkofaname

    This guy looks frighteningly like me (white/Vietnamese), except darker and slightly more symmetrical. The nose in particular is dead on. But, I fear for how unattractive the corresponding woman of the future will be. Women with dark hair and eyes against non-black skin are a turn-off.

  22. “Women with dark hair and eyes against non-black skin are a turn-off.”

    Speak for yourself, cantthinkofaname. 😉

  23. MikeP

    That must explain why everyone thinks Catherine Zeta Jones is such a dog.

  24. And Salma Hayek. She’s so uggo.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar