New study supports Australo-melanesians as part of the first wave Out of Africa

No Comments

How did anatomically modern humans populate the world? A recent paper in the Journal of Human Evolution analyses the fossil record and concludes that australo-melanesians – ancestors of several indigenous populations including those found in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Australia – were part of the initial migration out of Africa, while other populations dispersed later.

Australo-Melanesians and a very ancient ancestry
Popular Archaeology, 05 August 2015

Testing modern human out-of-Africa dispersal models and implications for modern human origins
Journal of Human Evolution doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.06.008

The modern human expansion process out of Africa has important implications for understanding the genetic and phenotypic structure of extant populations. While intensely debated, the primary hypotheses focus on either a single dispersal or multiple dispersals out of the continent. Here, we use the human fossil record from Africa and the Levant, as well as an exceptionally large dataset of Holocene human crania sampled from Asia, to model ancestor–descendant relationships along hypothetical dispersal routes. We test the spatial and temporal predictions of competing out-of-Africa models by assessing the correlation of geographical distances between populations and measures of population differentiation derived from quantitative cranial phenotype data. Our results support a model in which extant Australo-Melanesians are descendants of an initial dispersal out of Africa by early anatomically modern humans, while all other populations are descendants of a later migration wave. Our results have implications for understanding the complexity of modern human origins and diversity.

Tracing man's migration to East Asia

2 Comments

Research from China analysing the mDNA of East Asians suggests more evidence that early man migrated to China using the “Southern Route” from Arabia, India and Southeast Asia rather than from a northern Central Asian route. [Update: Link has been fixed]

Chinese scientists reveal ancient man’s route to East Asia
People’s Daily, 12 October 2010
Read More

Indians and Aboriginal Australians share genetic link

No Comments

Ok, not really news if you think about it – but good to have more corroborating evidence. This study (open access, too!) shows a distinct mDNA link between the aboriginal Australians and populations from the Indian subcontinent, which lends support to the idea that modern humans migrating out of Africa took a southernly route, hugging the coast, from India, through Southeast Asia and finally into Australia. Quite significantly, the divergence in the mDNA suggests that Australia was populated sometime around 50,000-60,000 years ago, which corresponds quite well to the conclusions derived from archaeology. This in turn implies that Southeast Asia was populated a little earlier, perhaps 70,000 years before present?

Uluru Sunset 2002
photo credit: Kiwi Flickr

Reconstructing Indian-Australian phylogenetic link
BioMed Central, 22 July 2009
Read More

The oldest stone tools found in Southeast Asia potentially rewrites our understanding of human origins

13 Comments

A hand axe found in Perak, peninsular Malaysia has been dated to 1.83 million years, making it the oldest stone tool discovered in the part of the world. More significantly, this find also raises some serious questions about the out-of-Africa hypothesis of human origin. The oldest modern man in Southeast Asia is dated to around 50-60,000 years ago, and the oldest hominid fossil, Java Man (homo erectus) is placed between 1 and 1.7 million years ago. It’s been all over the news this weekend, and I’m sorry for not posting this up sooner especially seeing how I am at the said Centre for Archaeological Research in Universiti Sains Malaysia (I’ve been away to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year).

The soil in which the tools were discovered in were dated by fission-track dating, but they do have a wide margin of error of about 600,000 years. At this stage, the results haven’t been independently verified.

Lenggong had early humans 1.8m years ago
The Star, 29 January 2009

Rewriting ‘Out of Africa’ theory
New Straits Times, 30 January 2009

Early axes found in Perak
The Star, 30 January 2009

Malaysian scientists find stone tools ‘oldest in Southeast Asia’
AFP, 31 January 2009

Malaysia Says 1.8 Million-year-old Axes Unearthed
Sin Chew Jit Poh, 31 Jan 2009
Read More