News FocusHUMAN ANTHROPOLOGY

Modern Men Trace Ancestry to African Migrants

Science  11 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5519, pp. 1051-1052
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5519.1051b

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Summary

In work described on page 1151, geneticists found that characteristic DNA sequences called markers on the Y (male) chromosome in a huge sample of men in Asia and Oceania could be traced to forefathers who lived in Africa in the past 35,000 to 89,000 years. Two other groups studying Y chromosome markers have come to a similar conclusion. Together with a variety of studies showing that mitochondrial DNA is of recent African origins, anthropologists now have two strong lines of evidence in favor of the "Out of Africa" model, which says that the ancestors of living humans swept out of Africa in the past 200,000 years and replaced all indigenous people they encountered. Researchers point out, however, that it is still possible that some of our nuclear DNA came from archaic humans who were not part of the recent migration out of Africa. Thus, a competing theory called "multiregionalism," which holds that living humans are descended from several archaic Old World populations, including Neandertals, is not yet dead.