J Hum Evol. 2000 Jul;39(1):1-22.

An Australasian test of the recent African origin theory using the WLH-50 calvarium.

Hawks J, Oh S, Hunley K, Dobson S, Cabana G, Dayalu P, Wolpoff MH.

Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA. john.hawks@anthro.utah.edu

This analysis investigates the ancestry of a single modern human specimen from Australia, WLH-50 (Thorne et al., in preparation; Webb, 1989). Evaluating its ancestry is important to our understanding of modern human origins in Australasia because the prevailing models of human origins make different predictions for the ancestry of this specimen, and others like it. Some authors believe in the validity of a complete replacement theory and propose that modern humans in Australasia descended solely from earlier modern human populations found in Late Pleistocene Africa and the Levant. These ancestral modern populations are believed to have completely replaced other archaic human populations, including the Ngandong hominids of Indonesia. According to this recent African origin theory, the archaic humans from Indonesia are classified as Homo erectus, a different evolutionary species that could not have contributed to the ancestry of modern Australasians. Therefore this theory of complete replacement makes clear predictions concerning the ancestry of the specimen WLH-50. We tested these predictions using two methods: a discriminant analysis of metric data for three samples that are potential ancestors of WLH-50 (Ngandong, Late Pleistocene Africans, Levant hominids from Skhul and Qafzeh) and a pairwise difference analysis of nonmetric data for individuals within these samples. The results of these procedures provide an unambiguous refutation of a model of complete replacement within this region, and indicate that the Ngandong hominids or a population like them may have contributed significantly to the ancestry of WLH-50. We therefore contend that Ngandong hominids should be classified within the evolutionary species, Homo sapiens. The Multiregional model of human evolution has the expectation that Australasian ancestry is in all three of the potentially ancestral groups and best explains modern Australasian origins. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.