How common is the “wanderlust gene?”

Around 20% of the people around the world have the “wanderlust” gene. But, the prevalence varies significantly between different ethnicities. It’s rare in East and South Asian populations, but is common in the Americas.

One explanation for this is that “wanderlust” drove our ancestors to move out of Africa, to explore the world and populate it. Indeed, studies indicate a link between the “wanderlust” gene and historical migrations.

People who stayed closer to their origins have a lower proportion of the “wanderlust” gene, compared to those who migrated further. Migratory people, like the Mayans, are much more likely to have the 7R+ version than those populations that were more sedentary.

So, it’s entirely possible that lower levels of dopamine and the accompanying restlessness associated with the “wanderlust” gene is what drove Vikings to discover North America, or the Polynesians to venture out into the open sea with nothing but stars to guide them.


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