Sunday, August 17, 2014

Out of Africa, Twice?

An important, recent article has shaken proponents of the commonly-accepted  "Out of Africa" hypothesis of human migration patterns.  The standard view is that homo sapiens migrated out of Africa and into continental Europe about  60-70,000 years ago, and then spread across the global from that point.  However, the conclusions of a recent research article, highlighted over at io9, suggests that...
A closer look at the genetics also suggests there was an earlier migration. Recently, Katerina Harvati of the University of Tubingen in Germany and her colleagues tested the classic "out of Africa at 60,000 years ago" story against the earlier-exodus idea. They plugged the genomes of indigenous populations from south-east Asia into a migration model. They found that the genetic data was best explained by an early exodus that left Africa around 130,000 years ago, taking a coastal route along the Arabian peninsula, India and into Australia, followed by a later wave along the classic route (PNAS, doi.org/tz6).
It doesn't so much overthrow the existing model as it extends and deepens our understanding.