African Data Bolster New View of Modern Human Origins

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Science  14 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6053, pp. 167
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6053.167

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Last month, two papers independently suggested that early Homo sapiens interbred with now-extinct forms of humans in Africa, so that some living Africans carry genes from archaic people, just as all Europeans and Asians recently have been shown to do. The new data imply that there were at least three fruitful encounters between H. sapiens and archaic species. And one of the new papers, on African fossils, was co-authored by a leading advocate of a conflicting hypothesis that H. sapiens simply replaced, rather than mated with, archaic peoples in Africa, Asia, and Europe. That marks a turning point in views of modern human origins, geneticists say.

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