Modern Humans Linked to Single Origin
Bower, Bruce, Science News
A new study that calculates the mathematical fit of competing explanations of human evolution with the geographic array of specific fossil features supports a single African or southwest Asian origin for modern humans.
The analysis enters a heated debate over human origins. One theory posits an Mrican genesis for modern humans between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago, after which Homo saplens spread elsewhere and replaced Neandertals. An opposing view argues that modern humans evolved simultaneously in several parts of the world beginning about I million years ago, with genetic input from Neandertals (SN: 9/25/93, p. 196).
"Africa and southwest Asia are good candidates for areas where modern human anatomy originated," asserts Diane M. Waddle, an anthropologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. "I'm confident that Neandertals had nothing significant to do with modern human evolution."
Waddle's study relies on a method, developed by geneticist Robert R. Sokal of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, for calculating the correspondence between various scientific predictions and sets of relevant data. Sokal and his coworkers have used this method to evaluate theories of modern language origins based on links between language patterns and genetic traits in European populations (SN: 8/22/92, p. …