April 18, 2005

More info on pre-sapiens ancestry in modern humans

Recently, I speculated about the possibility of finding that some humans may have ancestry older than that from recent African Homo sapiens, and soon after I read several new abstracts from AAPA which dealt with exactly the same topic, hinting that such ancestry is a fact. John Hawks, having attended the conference, also posts on this topic.
The study is a powerful blow against the case for a recent, exclusively African origin of modern humans. It doesn't demolish the case, since the arguments for a recent African origin extend to other aspects of the genetic record, but it is damaging and suggests that a lot of work should be reevaluated.
It does seem like the pendulum has begun to swing away from the pure Out-of-Africa theory, and towards two intriguing possibilities: that the case for Out-of-Africa may in fact have been overstated and modern humans originated somewhere else, or that some modern humans may in fact have deep pre-sapiens ancestry, in addition to their recent common ancestry.

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