Challenging the story of our origin: Human traits had ‘patchwork emergence’ across Africa

| | July 20, 2018

The origins of our species have long been traced to east Africa, where the world’s oldest undisputed Homo sapiens fossils were discovered.

However, a team of prominent scientists is now calling for a rewriting of this traditional narrative, based on a comprehensive survey of fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence. Instead, the international team argue, the distinctive features that make us human emerged mosaic-like across different populations spanning the entire African continent.

Dr Eleanor Scerri, an archaeologist at Oxford University, who led the international research, said: “This single origin, single population view has stuck in people’s mind … but the way we’ve been thinking about it is too simplistic.”

The telltale characteristics of a modern human – globular brain case, a chin, a more delicate brow and a small face – seem to first appear in different places at different times. Previously, this has either been explained as evidence of a single, large population trekking around the continent en masse.

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The latest analysis suggests that this patchwork emergence of human traits can be explained by the existence of multiple populations that were periodically separated for millennia by rivers, deserts, forests and mountains before coming into contact again”

“Someone finds a skull somewhere and that’s the source of humanity. Someone finds some tools somewhere, that’s the source of humanity,” [Scerri] said.

Read full, original post: No single birthplace of mankind, say scientists

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