Beyond multiregional and simple out-of-Africa models of human evolution

The past half century has seen a move from a multiregionalist view of human origins to widespread acceptance that modern humans emerged in Africa. Here the authors argue that a simple out-of-Africa model is also outdated, and that the current state of the evidence favours a structured African metapopulation model of human origins.

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Fig. 1: Cartogram with resized land area representing modern human genetic diversity and colour representing Neanderthal plus Denisovan ancestry.

James Cheshire and Mark G. Thomas

Fig. 2: Different models of population history.


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We thank J. Cheshire for generating Fig. 1, and M. O’Reilly and C. Pantiru for Fig. 2 design. We also thank C. Stringer and H. Groucutt for comments on the manuscript. E.M.L.S.’s work was supported by a Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Fellowship and the Max Planck Society. M.G.T. is supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship (grant 100719/Z/12/Z, ‘Human adaptation to changing diet and infectious disease loads, from the origins of agriculture to the present’). L.C. is supported by the French Laboratory of Excellence project ‘TULIP’ of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-10-LABX-41; ANR-11-IDEX-0002-02), the LIA BEEG-B (Laboratoire International Associé—Bioinformatics, Ecology, Evolution, Genomics and Behaviour) between the CNRS and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, the ANR Investissement d’Avenir grant (CEBA: ANR-10-LABX-25-01) and the FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) through the INFRAGECO and DISPO projects (Biodiversa/0003/2015 and PTDC-BIA-EVL/30815/2017).

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Correspondence to Eleanor M. L. Scerri.

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Scerri, E.M.L., Chikhi, L. & Thomas, M.G. Beyond multiregional and simple out-of-Africa models of human evolution. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 1370–1372 (2019).

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