Global Human Journey

Global Human Journey

An animated map shows humans migrating out of Africa to Asia, Europe, and the Americas.


5 - 12+


Anthropology, Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, World History

NGS Resource Carousel Loading Logo
Loading ...

The video above is from the January 2013 iPad edition of National Geographic magazine.

Groups of modern humans—Homo sapiens—began their migration out of Africa some 60,000 years ago. Some of our early ancestors kept exploring until they spread to all corners of Earth. How far and fast they went depended on climate, the pressures of population, and the invention of boats and other technologies. Less tangible qualities also sped their footsteps: imagination, adaptability, and an innate curiosity about what lay over the next hill.

Today, geneticists are doing their own exploring. Their studies have led them to a gene variation that might point to our propensity for risk-taking, movement, change, and adventure. This gene variant, known as DRD4-7R, is carried by approximately 20 percent of the human population. Several studies tie 7R (and other variants of the DRD4 gene) to migration. (Genetics is complex, however. Different groups of genes interact and yield diverse results in different individuals. DRD4-7R probably influences, not causes, our tendency toward “restlessness.”)

Teaching Strategies

Review “The Global Human Journey” video, then discuss geography and genetics as posed by queries in the “Questions” tab.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Caryl-Sue Micalizio, National Geographic Society
Sean P. O'Connor, BioBlitz Education Consultant
Caryl-Sue Micalizio, National Geographic Society
Page Producer
Sean P. O'Connor, BioBlitz Education Consultant
In Partnership With
National Geographic Magazine
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources

National Geographic Magazine