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Modern human origins
Pearson, Osbjorn M. Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Genetic, paleontological, and archeological data indicate that modern humans evolved in Africa and then spread to other parts of the world. Genetic data, primarily from mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid (mtDNA) and Y chromosomes, firmly place the exodus from Africa between 65,000 and 50,000 years before present (BP). Archeology adds crucial evidence that humans reached northern Australia by 55,000–50,000 BP. The earliest human fossils from Australia come from Lake Mungo in the southeast and date to 45,000 BP. Y chromosomes and mtDNA indicate an early rapid movement from Africa to Australia, probably along the coastline of the Indian Ocean. Genetic, archeological, and fossil evidence shows that modern humans occupied the rest of Eurasia between 50,000 and 30,000 BP. In Africa, fossils indicate that modern humans evolved gradually from archaic ancestors often described as Homo heidelbergensis, Homo helmei, or more generally “archaic Homo sapiens.” This process began by 400,000 BP and resulted in the emergence of anatomically modern people in Africa by 195,000–150,000 BP.
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