Review

On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives

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Science  08 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6368, eaai9067
DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9067

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  • Possible transmission of BK polyomavirus from archaic hominins to ancestral Asians
    • Yoshiaki Yogo, Visiting Researcher, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo
    • Other Contributors:
      • Chie Sugimoto, Lecturer, Dokkyo Medical University
      • Tadaichi Kitamura, Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo,

    As described in the Review “On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives” (8 December 2017, p. eaai9067), ancestral modern humans and archaic hominins lived in close contact with each other, and some parasitic microorganisms may have been transmitted between them. These microorganisms may have then been transmitted in the human population from generation to generation. The most likely candidate of such a microorganism is BK polyomavirus (BKV) subtype IV, as detailed below.
    BKV generally infects children asymptomatically and then persists in the kidney. This virus has four subtypes (I to IV), which are serologically distinguishable (1). Subtype I-BKV is found worldwide, and like the related JC polyomavirus (1), subtype I of BKV may have originated in Africa and then dispersed with migration of human populations (2). In contrast, subtype IV-BKV is prevalent in East Asia, with minor subtype IV in Europe and the United States (2). As the subtype IV viruses in Europe and the United States were likely relatively recently introduced by human movements, subtype IV of BKV may have originated in East Asia, rather than in Africa. This hypothesis was supported by a phylogenetic analysis conducted for complete subtype IV genomes worldwide (3).
    Thus, a further question has arisen as to how subtype IV of BKV evolved in East Asia. As population contact and interbreeding occurred rather frequently between ancestral modern humans and archaic hominins (Review), BKV is assum...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Out-of-Africa during MIS 8 and MIS 7 before MIS 5
    • James B. Harrod, Director, Center for Research on the Origins of Art and Religion

    This article aptly reviews evidence for invalidating the older single diffusion out-of-Africa 65,000 years ago, which invalidated the still older model dating 45,000 years ago. The review to that extent is an advance over the older hypotheses. The article appears to ignore proposed alternatives for MIS 7 and MIS 6. Van Peer (2017) has argued for a Sangoan/Final Acheulian out-of-Africa based on some lithic technology similarities in SW Asia, such as Acheulo-Yabrudian handaxes and 'Micoquian features' at Yabrud, Umm Qatafa, Jamal, Misliya and Tabun E, their intercalated with Amudian. Amudian at Qesem has fossils of early Homo sapiens resembling Irhoud, and later Skhul and Qafzeh. Similar lithics occur in the Arabian Sibakhan tradition, compared to Amudian (Rose 2007). By diffusion or convergence lithic comparison to Sangoan/Lupemban core-axes appears evident in South Asia at sites such as Satpati and Gadari, southern Nepal, bifaces with cortex on lower half and intensively worked chisel-shaped points. All these sites and associated fossils are around 200-300,000 BP. I suggest these sites and their technologies, as well as symbolic materials, supports Van Peer's alternative for the first wave of early Homo sapiens sapiens out of Africa. While variously typed in the past, Sankhyan (2016) reanalysis of the Hathnora cranium, circa 200-300,000 BP, reaffirms earlier attribution to a 'heidelbergensis', and especially to the Petralona fossil rather than a m...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.