A new study suggests that the origin of humans did not come from one particular region in Africa. The study is claiming that humans may have been from various parts of the continent.
Africa Is Home
A team of researchers from the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History is challenging the previous concept that human life began from a single population in Africa. The team believes that human ancestors were both physically and culturally diverse over 300,000 years ago. The researchers, led by archaeologist Eleanor Scerri, combined different approaches to examine how modern humans evolved thousands of years ago.
The scientists discovered that not only homo sapiens were scattered across different parts of Africa when they emerged as a species, they were also separated because of various physical barriers such as deserts and forests, which led to diversification.
Over time, these environments began to shift, creating migrations that made contact between the homo sapiens possible. The scientists believe that populations could have gone through several cycles of cultural and genetic mixing before they became isolated again. Researchers state that this new theory on human evolution helps better explain the genetic, fossil and archeological evidence left behind.
Humans Were Diverse From The Beginning
The scientists continue that this new hypothesis can explain why bones from 300,000 years ago vary and have a mix of archaic and modern features that appeared in different places during different times.
"In the fossil record, we see a mosaic-like, continental-wide trend toward the modern human form, and the fact that these features appear at different places at different times tells us that these populations were not well connected," Scerri stated.
Scerri continued that certain artifacts, such as stones and tools, have clustered distributions throughout time and that while there is a "continental-wide" trend towards a more classified material culture, it doesn't seem to have originated in one region.
Mark Thomas, a geneticist from University College London and co-author of the study, stated it's difficult to connect the DNA found in present-day Africans to DNA found from the bones of the ancestors that lived there over the last 10,000 years. He continued that the researchers found indications of a reduced connectivity from the past, old lineages, and various levels of diversity overall that a single population would have trouble controlling.
The study was published in the journal, Trends in Ecology & Evolution.