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.
New developments in the genetic evidence for modern human origins
Article first published online: 22 FEB 2008
Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
Special Issue: Modern Human Origins in Africa
Volume 17, Issue 1, pages 69–80, January/February 2008
How to Cite
Weaver, T. D. and Roseman, C. C. (2008), New developments in the genetic evidence for modern human origins. Evol. Anthropol., 17: 69–80. doi: 10.1002/evan.20161
- Issue published online: 22 FEB 2008
- Article first published online: 22 FEB 2008
- modern human origins;
- population size;
- natural selection
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