Last August I put up a post about convergent evolution, and mentioned it again just a few posts ago. If you go to the post from last August, and double click on the chart, you can get a detailed analysis of the genetic distance between the different racial groups. But that is a very detailed chart which requires a lot of study, so here is a much simpler version, which is actually viewable in the space this blog's format allows:
This chart, by the way, is from the following website: http://barclay1720.tripod.com/hist/origin/outafrica.htm
This is essentially the same chart as the one referenced above, but without all those complicated numbers (it's been a long time since I took statistics). This chart indicates the relative stages at which the different branches of humanity split off from each other. The tree has some expected branches, but also contains a number of surprises.
It makes sense that East Asians and Inuit and Amerindians are so closely related, since the latter two just went over the Bering Strait during the last Ice Age, a mere 12 - 14,000 years ago. (A friend who grew up in Japan once innocently commented to me that during the two hours he spent at the Anchorage Airport he saw more drunk Japanese than he had in his entire childhood; it was only later he realized his error.) But who would ever have guessed that the East Asians split off from Europeans more recently than they did from Southeast Asians? Japanese and Koreans certainly resemble Filipinos more than they do Swedes.
It's a little bit of a surprise to find that (subcontinental) Indians are more closely related to Europeans than they are to other Asians. It's more of a surprise that they branched off from Europeans more recently than did the Lapps, those reindeer-herding blonds from northern Scandinavia.
Perhaps the biggest surprise (which isn't visible from the chart above, but can be seen from link at the top of this post) is that the group mostly closely related to Africans are non-European Caucasians, followed closely by European Caucasians. And the group with the furthest genetic distance from Africans are the Australian aborigines and Melanesians. Here are some pictures of Melanesians, from Papua New Guinea and Fiji:
If you saw any of these faces on the streets of East St. Louis, you probably wouldn't look twice. But genetically speaking, they are more alien to that environment than Renee Zellweger would be.
Zellweger, by the way, is half-Lapp, so she would, genetically speaking, actually be more out of place in Copenhagen than, say, actor Ben Kingsley ("Gandhi") who is half-Indian, half-Brit.
Appearances can certainly be deceiving.