Southern African ancient genomes estimate modern human divergence to 350,000 to 260,000 years ago

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 652-655
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6266

Ancient DNA pushes human emergence back

Anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa, but pinpointing when has been difficult. Schlebusch et al. sequenced three ancient African genomes from the Stone Age, about 2000 years old, and four from the Iron Age, 300 to 500 years old. One of the oldest samples, sequenced to 13× coverage, appears most closely to resemble individuals from the present-day San population. However, this individual seems to have lacked genetic contributions from other modern African populations, including pastoralists and farmers, which were observed in modern San individuals. Thus, the earliest divergence between human populations may have occurred 350,000 to 260,000 years ago.

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