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Earth Science

"Out of Africa" Theory Called Into Question By Originator 169

Posted by timothy
from the oh-great-now-you-tell-me dept.
Amiga Trombone writes "Christopher Stringer is one of the world's foremost paleoanthropologists. He is a founder and most powerful advocate of the leading theory concerning our evolution: Recent African Origin or 'Out of Africa.' He now calls the theory into question: 'I'm thinking a lot about species concepts as applied to humans, about the "Out of Africa" model, and also looking back into Africa itself. I think the idea that modern humans originated in Africa is still a sound concept. Behaviorally and physically, we began our story there, but I've come around to thinking that it wasn't a simple origin. Twenty years ago, I would have argued that our species evolved in one place, maybe in East Africa or South Africa. There was a period of time in just one place where a small population of humans became modern, physically and behaviourally. Isolated and perhaps stressed by climate change, this drove a rapid and punctuational origin for our species. Now I don't think it was that simple, either within or outside of Africa.'"
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"Out of Africa" Theory Called Into Question By Originator

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  • by russotto (537200) on Monday September 17, 2012 @08:15PM (#41370049) Journal

    Reality is more complex than humans just appearing in one location in Africa? That doesn't really question ANYTHING about the theory, but instead just suggests a refinement.

    There are multiple theories that really are different

    1) H. Sapiens evolved in Africa, travelled from there, overtaking and outcompeting (or outright killing) previous hominids who earlier left Africa.

    2) A mostly-modern H. Sapiens evolved in Africa, travelled from there, and interbred with/absorbed existing hominid populations (by some definitions these were also H. Sapiens) who had earlier left Africa. This one isn't so different, but it is different.

    3) Multiregional. Earlier hominids (not H. Sapiens) leave Africa in multiple expansions. These various groups evolve, run into each other, and interbreed, and continue migrating (including back to Africa). H. Sapiens emerges as a product of this global interbreeding and evolution. This is obviously a very different theory.

    Evidence of modern humans having some Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA casts a lot of doubt on the first theory.

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