New developments in the genetic evidence for modern human origins

Authors

  • Timothy D. Weaver,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
    • Department of Anthropology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Timothy D. Weaver is a paleoanthropologist in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on the origins, evolution, and disappearance of Neandertals, and the related question of the origins of humans who were anatomically and behaviorally modern. He strives to integrate approaches and datasets from genetics with traditional studies of the fossil record.

  • Charles C. Roseman

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 109 Davenport Hall, 607 South Matthews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Charles C. Roseman is an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is interested in the genetic basis and evolution of morphological variation. His research deals with identifying those parts of the genome that contribute to individual differences in the skeletal morphology of model organisms, and using population and quantitative genetic models to test evolutionary hypotheses.


Abstract

The genetic evidence for modern human origins was reviewed recently in Evolutionary Anthropology by Pearson,1 so our goal is to highlight new developments rather than attempt a comprehensive review. For years, polarized Multiregional and Out-of-Africa models for modern human origins were debated vigorously, but today there is substantial agreement among specialists. One area of broad consensus is that Africa or, more accurately, sub-Saharan Africa, played a predominant role in the origins of modern humans. This view is found even among researchers who argue against complete replacement of nonmodern Eurasians.2–7 The importance of Africa is clear not only from genetics, but also from the fossil record.1, 8 On the other hand, most researchers also agree that, at least in principle, modern humans and nonmodern Eurasians, such as Neandertals, could have interbred with each other. The fossil record suggests that Neandertals and modern humans constituted independent evolutionary lineages,9 but their recent common ancestry leaves open the possibility of admixture.10 The open question is whether there is any evidence of admixture.1

Ancillary