If you find yourself with an itch to travel, you might have more in common with early migrants than just wanderlust. Stanford University geneticists have identified a gene that could explain why early man left his farming communities to explore the world, why Americans are natural capitalists and perhaps even why you can’t wait for your next trip abroad (and why some people have no interest in leaving home at all).
Risky and Novelty-seeking behavior
The logic is as follows. Scientists have found a gene that is attributed to risky and novelty-seeking behaviors. When looking at the genetic profiles of the earliest migrants, the ones that left the African savannahs and started man’s journey to colonize the world, they found they had a high percentage of this shared gene. When looking at those who stayed behind, they had a much lower percentage of the gene. So over time, those who left, were naturally self-selecting themselves as born-travelers, and would produce children that shared this same genetic profile. Those children were more likely to carry it, and so on.
So are travelers just the great, great (x1000) grandchildren of early nomads? Is the reason some people are perfectly content to never see the world more about their DNA than their life experiences?
Risk-takers and Immigrant populations
In this Princeton book, the author goes a step further to suggest in highly immigrant populations, you have a higher concentration of the wanderlust gene. It makes you willing to take risks, but it also pushes you to try new things. This lends itself nicely to capitalistic societies, where risk and new ideas are rewarded and encouraged. While I’m sure there are many more factors to world economies than a single gene, it does make me wonder… are people from certain countries more likely to travel? Is it purely an economical equation or is there something inherent in our DNA that pushes out the door?
What do you think? Could there be a traveling gene?
Thanks to Expat Expression who first covered this topic
Photo: Spr Msh