The finding raises many questions. Among them: "the medical applications of this kind of knowledge [as well as] exactly what most of the selected changes do and what drove their selection," Cochran says.
But the history of humanity is beginning to be read out from our genes, thanks to a detailed knowledge of the thousands of them that have evolved recently. "We're going to be classifying these by functional categories and looking for matches between genetic changes and historic and archaeological changes in diet, skeletal form, disease and many other things," Hawks says. "We think we will be able to find some of the genetic changes that drove human population growth and migrations—the broad causes of human history."
*This article wrongly characterized the HapMap genotype dataset used for this analysis as "genes" rather than "DNA sequences."