Friday, September 05, 2008

The Movement of the Human Race

The Guardian has a story (originally from the Observer) covering a study done to sequence the genetic make-up of over 250 000 volunteers. They write:

Scientists have known for several years that modern humans emerged from sub-Saharan Africa within the past 100,000 years. However, the £25m Genographic project - backed by National Geographic, IBM and the Waitt Family Foundation - has recently transformed that knowledge by painting in a mass of highly detailed information about our African exodus.

After emerging into the Arabian peninsula, some of our ancestors took sea routes along the south Asian coast to reach Australia 50,000 years ago. Only later, about 40,000 years ago, did we enter Europe - its cold and its Neanderthals making it far less hospitable - while one group of Asians headed farther east over the land bridge that then connected their continent to America.

Such stories sort of gloss over the possible contributions of archaic Homo sapiens' genes to the early modern migrants, an issue hotly debated in palaeoanthropology circles. More to come, I hope.

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