Rethinking Modern Human Origins
It’s assumed that modern humans, Homo sapiens, originated in Africa sometime between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago. But paleoanthropologist Tim Weaver argues there might be another way to interpret our species’ beginnings. Instead of a discrete origin event, he suggests in the Journal of Human Evolution that our ancestors’ arrival into the world might have been a lengthy process that occurred over hundreds of thousands of years.
Current thinking says the lineages leading to modern humans and Neanderthals split 400,000 years ago. And then 200,000 years later, Homo sapiens suddenly appeared in Africa. There’s a lot of evidence that seems to support the idea, but Weaver says these lines of evidence can also support an alternative scenario, in which the evolution of our species plays out over hundreds of thousands of years between the split from Neanderthals and the expansion of humans out of Africa 60,000 to 50,000 years ago. He uses genetics and mathematical methods to argue his case.