Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Fossil Study Rejects "Eve Theory" And Supports Diverse Ancestry Of Modern Humans

Date:
January 12, 2001
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
The ancestors of modern humans came from many different regions of the world, not just a single area, according to a University of Michigan study published in the current (Jan. 12) issue of Science. The study, by U-M anthropologist Milford H. Wolpoff and colleagues, is one of just a few to base its controversial conclusion about the origin of the human species on a comparison of actual human fossils---early modern and archaic fossil skulls from around the world.

ANN ARBOR --- The ancestors of modern humans came from many different regions of the world, not just a single area, according to a University of Michigan study published in the current (Jan. 12) issue of Science. The study, by U-M anthropologist Milford H. Wolpoff and colleagues, is one of just a few to base its controversial conclusion about the origin of the human species on a comparison of actual human fossils---early modern and archaic fossil skulls from around the world.

"Ancient humans shared genes and behaviors across wide regions of the world, and were not rendered extinct by one 'lucky group' that later evolved into us," says Wolpoff, a professor of anthropology at the U-M and first author of the study. "The fossils clearly show that more than one ancient group survived and thrived."

For the study, Wolpoff and colleagues John Hawks of the University of Utah, David W. Frayer of the University of Kansas, and Keith Hunley of the U-M, examined some of the first early modern human fossil crania from Australia and Central Europe, peripheral regions far from Africa, where modern humans evolved, according to the Eve theory. They compared these Europeans and Australians (between 20,000 and 30,000 years old) with two even older groups who might be their ancestors---archaic fossil crania from the same locations, and even earlier fossils from Africa and the Near East, who would have to be the only ancestors for both of them according to the Eve theory. If the Europeans and Australians had multiple ancestry, including ancestors among their local archaic predecessors, the Eve theory would have to be wrong. "Basically we wanted to see if this comparison could disprove the theory of multiple ancestry for the early European and Australian moderns," notes Wolpoff.

Wolpoff and colleagues selected fossils from Eastern Europe and Australia for the focal point of the comparison because they thought that populations distant from the center of the ancient human population might retain easily identifiable resemblances to ancient peoples, if there were any. They compared a number of different features of the fossil skulls from the Mladec cave in the Czech Republic and a skull from the Willandra Lakes region of Southeastern Australia to the other fossil skulls that could be ancestors. In each case, they analyzed in how many respects the Mladec and Australian skulls were like the other skulls and in how many respects they were different.

They found that the Mladec and Australian skulls shared characteristics distinctive to the more ancient African and Near Eastern population. But at the same time, the fossils also had distinctive resemblances to more ancient fossils within their regions, many more than could be explained by chance alone. "These features amount to a smoking gun for continuity within these regions, " says Hawks.

The findings are the latest evidence in the continuing scientific controversy about the origin of modern Homo sapiens. Many scientists believe that all living humans can trace their ancestry exclusively to a small group of ancient humans, probably Africans, living around 100,000 years ago. This explanation, known as the Eve hypothesis or replacement theory, means that all other early human groups, whose fossils date from this time back to almost two million years ago, must have become extinct, possibly wiped out in a prehistoric genetic holocaust.

Other scientists, including Wolpoff and colleagues Hawks, Frayer, and Hunley, maintain that there is little evidence that a small group originating in a single geographic region replaced the entire population of early humans. The genetic evidence has always been unclear, Wolpoff and colleagues note, because different genes support different theories: mitochondrial genes support replacement theory while nuclear genes support the development of an older, worldwide species of human ancestors.

"In asking the question a different way, and directly addressing the fossils, this study provides compelling evidence that replacement is the wrong explanation," says Wolpoff. "Instead, the findings support the theory of multi-regional evolution. Modern humans are the present manifestation of an older worldwide species with populations connected by gene flow and the exchange of ideas. Modern human groups are very much more similar than different because of comparable adaptations to ideas and technologies that spread across the inhabited world and because of the dispersals of successful genes promoted by selection."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "New Fossil Study Rejects "Eve Theory" And Supports Diverse Ancestry Of Modern Humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111194453.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (2001, January 12). New Fossil Study Rejects "Eve Theory" And Supports Diverse Ancestry Of Modern Humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111194453.htm
University Of Michigan. "New Fossil Study Rejects "Eve Theory" And Supports Diverse Ancestry Of Modern Humans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111194453.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Newsy (Aug. 15, 2014) A mother and son in Alaska uncovered woolly mammoth tusks in the same river more than two decades apart. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Newsy (Aug. 14, 2014) Newly found fossils reveal a previously unknown species of flying reptile with a really weird head, which some say looks like a butterfly. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

AFP (Aug. 11, 2014) The hulks of tanks can still be found rusting in the jungles of Palau, but the fierce fighting that scarred the Pacific island nation in WWII has left a more dangerous legacy - unexploded bombs that pose a constant risk to locals. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins