On the reliability of recent tests of the Out of Africa hypothesis for modern human origins

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Abstract

In this paper we critique two recent studies that have been claimed to disprove the Out of Africa hypothesis for modern human origins (Hawks et al., 2000; Wolpoff et al., 2001). We show that the test prediction employed by Hawks et al. (2000) and Wolpff et al. (2001) is not relevant to many versions of the Out of Africa hypothesis, and that the key specimens they used are problematic in terms of morphological representativeness. We also show that there are significant problems with the character state datasets employed in the studies. Lastly, we highlight evidence that the main method used in the studies (pairwise difference analysis) is not reliable when applied to the type of data employed by Hawks et al. (2000) and Wolpoff et al. (2001). In view of the foregoing, we contend that Hawks et al.'s (2000) and Wolpoff et al.'s (2001) claim to have disproved the Out of Africa hypothesis cannot be sustained. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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