The Context of Human Genetic Evolution

The debate on modern human origins has often focused on the relationship between genes and fossils. Although more and more genetic evidence has been accumulating in favor of a recent African origin for modern humans, it has been assumed by many that the fossil evidence remains ambiguous. On the contrary, it has been clear for some time that the fossil evidence does not support the multiregional model: Fossils and archeology indicate a pattern of multiple dispersals from and beyond Africa, against which the genetic data can be compared. The continuing value of paleobiology is in complementing genetic information by revealing the context of human evolution: locating the dispersals and extinctions of populations in time and space, correlating these events with the environmental forces that shaped them, and providing an increasingly detailed understanding of the morphology and technology of early humans.