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Thread: Challenging the Out Of Africa Theory

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    Post Challenging the Out Of Africa Theory

    Use this thread to post resources challenging the Out Of Africa Theory.

    Skull Fossil Challenges Out-of-Africa Theory

    Author: John Roach
    Filed: 7/7/2002, 8:45:49 PM
    Source: National Geographic News

    An exquisitely preserved skull of a tiny-brained human ancestor has been recovered from excavations beneath the ruins of a medieval castle in the republic of Georgia. The skull is about 1.8 million years old and belongs to the first group of humans to migrate out of Africa, reports an international team of archaeologists.
    The find calls into question a widely held hypothesis that the evolution of big brains propelled the exodus of early humans out of Africa.

    The fossil evidence from Dmanisi now includes three skulls, several jaw fragments, and hundreds of stone tools and animal remains. All of the material has been recovered from the same layer of sediment. It is forcing scientists to come up with alternative explanations for why humans were able to leave Africa.

    "Before this find, the main reason was that at least these humans had big brains," said David Lordkipanidze, a paleoanthropologist at the Georgian State Museum in Tbilisi who led the excavation team. "Now this shows that [their brains] were quite small."

    The brain of the new specimen from Dmanisi is about half the size of a modern human's brain. The two skulls found in 1999 at the site are also about 1.8 million years old and had room for substantially larger brains.

    The research by Lordkipanidze and colleagues is published in the July 5 issue of the journal Science and is the subject of the cover story of the August issue of National Geographic magazine.

    Treasure Trove

    Dmanisi sits on a promontory formed by the confluence of two rivers between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Tbilisi. Archaeologists first began excavating the remains of a 1,000-year-old castle located on the site in 1936.

    In 1983, while examining an ancient garbage pit, one of the archaeologists uncovered what Abesalom Vekua, a team member from the Georgian State Museum, identified as a tooth of a rhinoceros, an odd creature to have been wandering the Caucasus Mountains. Speculation about what lay in the sediments beneath the castle spurred further excavations.

    Stone tools recovered in 1984 and the two skulls discovered in 1999 were all dated to 1.8 million years ago, making the site a rare treasure trove for scientists interested in human evolution.

    "We can say this is the richest material from this time period from one site and from one strata," said Lordkipanidze. "Usually we have isolated finds. Now on one geological level you have three skulls and three mandibles. We have a chance to study isolated specimens and to study populations."

    In addition, members of the excavation team have found thousands of plant impressions, carbonized plant remains, numerous animal bones, snail shells, and what appears to be plant pollen in a series of thick lake deposits just to the south of the Dmanisi site.

    "This documents our ability to reconstruct an environmental history of the site before, during, and after the occupations with detail and precision that would be enviable in any archaeological setting," said Reid Ferring, an archaeologist at the University of North Texas in Denton and member of the excavation team.

    "Also, the lake shore deposits provide us with a superb tool for locating other areas where those people camped or butchered animals," he added.

    Wider Species Variation

    Lordkipanidze and his colleagues have classified all three skulls as belonging to Homo erectus. However, they caution that the small brain and other features of the new skull suggest a close resemblance to Homo habilis, which was more apelike with a thin brow, huge canine teeth, and long, dangling arms.

    The variation among the hominids recovered at Dmanisi makes it difficult to say exactly who these people were, said Lordkipanidze. He suggests that the variation may force scientists to rethink the definition of "Homo."

    "The Dmanisi fossils show much more variation than we would have expected from any group of humans at that time," said Ferring. "But clearly, the notion that the African exodus had to await emergence of a tall, fast, strong, and clever species and that Homo erectus was our first ancestor to meet all those requirements was wrong."

    The researchers conclude that the Dmanisi hominids are among the most primitive individuals attributed to H. erectus and that "it now seems that the first humans to disperse from the African homeland were similar in grade to H. habilis."

    The range of material found at the Dmanisi site "will help us understand the evolutionary origins of these early humans, their variation, and their affiliation to other early human groups," said Chris Stringer, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, England.

    Out of Africa

    Prior to the discoveries at Dmanisi, scientists theorized that the first humans to migrate out of Africa had large brains and wielded advanced stone tools such as hand axes that allowed them to butcher and process meat.

    The stone tools found with the hominid remains at Dmanisi, however, are simple choppers and scrapers similar to the Oldowan set found in the Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. This implies that early humans with primitive technology were able to expand out of Africa, said Lordkipanidze.

    Ferring added that although the stone tools are of the Oldowan set, "many of them show careful selection of the better raw materials located in the flanking valleys, and a number of the cores have been intensively reduced to maximize the number of flakes that were removed—I don't think they were stupid."

    The Dmanisi evidence calls into question older theories on who left Africa first and why they left, said Ferring. Now scientists must ask the question: If not brain power and tool technology, what did enable early humans to leave Africa?

    Lordkipanidze and colleagues suggest that the answer lies in anatomy and ecology, but say that without further study and discussion within the scientific community no conclusions can be drawn.

    "My feeling has always been that it was the acquisition of modern body form and the consequent emancipation of hominids from the forest fringes and woodlands that allowed the spread of early humans to begin," said Ian Tattersall, an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

    Stringer suggests that 1.8 million years ago the environment at the Dmanisi site may have been much more like that of East Africa.

    "Thus these early humans may have just expanded their range, remaining in a rather familiar environment," he said. "However, greater reliance on tools and meat eating probably also facilitated the expansion."

    Lordkipanidze says he hopes that further excavations at Dmanisi, which are continuing this summer, will reveal skeletal remains that will help answer some of these questions. "It is feasible that we will find some part of the body," he said.

    The excavations at Dmanisi are funded in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration.

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    Post Is the Out Of Africa Theory Valid?

    Is the Out of Africa Theory that states all Anatomically Modern Humans have a recent(200,000yr) origin from Africa a valid theory?

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    Post Re: Is the Out Of Africa Theory Valid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Paladin
    Is the Out of Africa Theory that states all Anatomically Modern Humans have a recent(200,000yr) origin from Africa a valid theory?
    After what we know from the archaeological record its possible, from what we know from genetic studies its very likely.

    But probably you read the different threads in the different fora in which are many discussions about this issue.

    There are of course still people like Wolpoff, which want to promote the multiregional theory. My personal opinion is that this is nonsence, and even if there were mixed individuals, most, the majority came out of Africa.

    Thats not the question today, the only question is if the older Hominid strata contributed AT LEAST ANYTHING to modern genpools, and even that is more unlikely or happened on a low level, so the remaining question is primarily if any mixture was possible and happened at all.
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    Post Re: Is the Out Of Africa Theory Valid?

    Yes, the theory is valid - but misleading is the idea that such common ancestors of an African origin pot of the whole nowerday mankind were Negrids in the modern sense, as it is often suggested to people in popularized form in magazins, TV etc. ("Our all ancestors were Blacks..." etc.). They were rather Australiform, I would say.
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    Question The 'out of Africa' theory

    I've read somewhere that the 'out of Africa' theory has been discarded by most scientists. Is this true? Can anyone explain why? I guess it has something to do with the genetics research.

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    this thread might give you some information
    or this one.

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    Sv: The 'out of Africa' theory

    Sorry but I'm not a member of neither of the two forums.

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    it would take only a moment
    to register as a member
    of those fora.

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    Re: The 'out of Africa' theory

    Just search the forum for "Out of Africa".

    Here some comments and threads from my side:
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=36916
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=44003

    Sapiens and neanderthalensis in Europe:
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=42593

    Very interesting article about the "Darwinian outlook":
    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=46513
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    New Study Confirms Out of Africa Theory?

    WASHINGTON - Two big genetic studies confirm theories that modern humans evolved in Africa and then migrated through Europe and Asia to reach the Pacific and Americas.

    The two studies also show that Africans have the most diverse DNA, and the fewest potentially harmful genetic mutations.

    One of the studies shows European-Americans have more small mutations, while the others show Native Americans, Polynesians and others who populated Australia and Oceania have more big genetic changes.

    The studies, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, paint a picture of a population of humans migrating off the African continent, and then shrinking at some point because of unknown adversity.

    Later populations grew and spread from this smaller genetic pool of founder ancestors — a phenomenon known as a bottleneck.

    Populations that remained in Africa kept their genetic diversity — something seen in many other studies.

    "The one thing that I think we cannot say from this study is that any one person's genome is any healthier or evolutionarily fit than another person's genome," said Carlos Bustamante of Cornell University in New York, who worked on one study.

    "You have to think of this at the population level," Bustamante said in a telephone interview.

    Fit or extinct
    Bustamante's team has been looking at the DNA sequences of 15 African-Americans and 20 European-Americans, examining tiny one-letter changes in the DNA code called single-nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (pronounced "snips").

    They tested these changes to qualify them as benign, or potentially affecting genes, amino acids and eventually proteins in a way that could damage health or make people less "fit" — in evolutionary terms, less likely to survive and reproduce.

    "Like every other study ... the African-American panel as a whole showed more variation than the European-American panel," Bustamante said.

    Then his team did a computer simulation of a bottleneck, and found it predicted this pattern.

    Bustamante said it is possible some of the SNPs are beneficial, and he said his team and others should compare the genetic changes they found to known genetic changes linked with diseases.

    "I wish we had done that (already)," he said.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23261247

    First of all, I thought they had already announced that Africa was more genetically diverse. Second, does it really make sense to use African-Americans for this type of genetic study rather than regular Africans?

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