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Where did Modern Humans originate and how are they different from their archaic ancestors?

Uploaded by apollo_crash on May 26, 2004

Where did Modern Humans originate and how are they different from their archaic ancestors?

Modern Humans or Homo sapien sapiens origination is a question of controversy and much debate within the scientific community. In this essay I will attempt to illustrate the most significant theories and supporting evidence as well as make inferences about how they differed physically, socially and culturally from their archaic ancestors.

There are two main theories regarding the evolution of Modern Humans, the first is the “Replacement Theory” and the second is the “Continuity Theory”. The Replacement Theory infers that Modern Humans evolved in Africa from Archaic and “Pre-Modern” Homo sapiens, terms describing a diverse range of Humans which lived from before 150,000 years ago to possibly less than 10,000 years ago (McBean, 2002) and that this new species radiated into South East Asia and then out into the rest of the world via land bridges. The Continuity Hypothesis suggests that the evolution of Homo sapiens did not necessarily take place in Africa but in other areas of the world, evolving independently of each other.

Up until the 1980’s most of the information that we had on the origination of Modern Humans came from the fossil record. In 1987 a Biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley named Allan Wilson concluded that Homo sapiens are an entirely new species that originated in Africa alone (the Eve hypothesis). The Mitochondrial DNA mapping of Rebecca Cann in 147 humans also points towards greater diversity in the African group than any from Europe, Asia and New Guinea. Anthropologists remain divided over the theory. Some consider a migration of conquering humans from Africa to be at odds with the fossil record. (Wolpoff, Thorne and Lawn, 1991). Also on statistical grounds and because the data is still inadequate to reject the multi regional (Continuity) hypothesis completely (Fagan, 2004).

What we do know is that the oldest Modern Human fossil remains outside Africa (Anon, A 200,000-year-old Homo sapien skull was found in Dali, China. Another Modern Human fossil was found in Qafzeh, Middle East and is 100,000 years old. Whereas Homo sapien sapiens fossils that have been excavated at the Klasies River Mouth and Border Cave in South Africa date between 60,000 and 80,000 years old.

While it is not clear exactly where Modern Humans originated it is clear that if the Replacement...

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Uploaded by:   apollo_crash

Date:   05/26/2004

Category:   History

Length:   5 pages (1,025 words)

Views:   2452

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