Multiregional Origin of Modern Humans

Friday, July 16, 2010

The multiregional origin of Homo Sapiens, or modern humans, is a scientific theory proposed by Milford H. Wolpoff in 1988. It gives an explanation for the pattern of human evolution. The Multiregional origin theory holds that Homo erectus, Neanderthals, Homo sapiens and other humans were a single species. This species arose in Africa two and half million years ago as Homo erectus and then spread out over the world, developing adaptations to regional conditions, evolving worldwide to modern Homo sapiens.

A competing theory, the recent African origin of modern humans (also known as "Out of Africa"), has emerged as the near consensus view since the 1990s, proposing that modern humans arose in Africa around 100-200,000 years ago, moving out of Africa around 50-60,000 years ago to replace existing human species such as Homo erectus and the Neanderthals. But this theory is rather flimsy since it does not account for the fact that recent genetical studies conducted by German scientists in 2010 proved that modern humans share up to 6% of genes with the Neantherthal, suggesting that interbreeding took place with Homo sapiens sapiens between roughly 80,000 to 50,000 years ago.

Multiregional origin proponents claim that the discovery of hybrid Homo sapiens X neanderthalensis fossils in Israel and at the Abrigo do Lagar Velho rock-shelter site in Portugal in 1983 and 1999 respectively, further supports the multiregional hypothesis, by reflecting the admixture of diverse human populations.