Dust may have controlled ancient human civilization

When early humans began to travel out of Africa and spread into Eurasia over a hundred thousand years ago, a fertile region around the eastern Mediterranean Sea called the Levant served as a critical gateway between northern ...

Scientists identify ancient origin for key hormone system

A key set of proteins that help regulate hormones necessary for many essential functions in humans and other vertebrates have ancient origins in much simpler creatures such as sea cucumbers, says a new study published today ...

An evolving understanding of extinction

Few things related to science capture the imagination more than the magic of worlds past. This includes the origins of life, dinosaurs, mass extinctions, meteorite impacts, and the evolution of our species. Understanding ...

Is Botswana humanity's ancestral home? Maybe not

A recent paper in thejournal Nature claims to show that modern humans originated about 200,000 years ago in the region around northern Botswana. For a scientist like myself who studies human origins, this is exciting news. ...

Five reasons why 2018 was a big year for palaeontology

A lot happened in the world of palaeontology in 2018. Some of the big events included some major fossil finds, a new understanding of our reptile ancestors and a major controversy whose outcome could rewrite human history. ...

The secret life of teeth: Evo-devo models of tooth development

Across the world of mammals, teeth come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Their particular size and shape are the process of millions of years of evolutionary fine-tuning to produce teeth that can effectively break down the ...

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Human evolution

Human evolution, or anthropogenesis, is the part of biological evolution concerning the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species from other hominins, great apes and placental mammals. It is the subject of a broad scientific inquiry that seeks to understand and describe how this change occurred. The study of human evolution encompasses many scientific disciplines, most notably physical anthropology, primatology, archaeology, linguistics and genetics.

The term "human", in the context of human evolution, refers to the genus Homo, but studies of human evolution usually include other hominins, such as the Australopithecines. The Homo genus diverged from the Australopithecines about 2 million years ago in Africa. Scientists have estimated that humans branched off from their common ancestor with chimpanzees—the only other living homininis—about 5–7 million years ago. Several species of Homo evolved that are now extinct. These include Homo erectus, which inhabited Asia, and Homo neanderthalensis, which inhabited Europe.

Archaic Homo sapiens evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago. The dominant view among scientists is the recent African origin of modern humans (RAO) that H. sapiens evolved in Africa and spread across the globe, replacing populations of H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis. Scientists supporting the alternative hypothesis on the multiregional evolution (ME) view modern humans as having evolved as a single, widespread population from existing Homo species, particularly H. erectus. The fossil evidence is insufficient to resolve this vigorous debate,. Studies of haplogroups in Y-chromosomal DNA and mitochondrial DNA have largely supported a recent African origin, while some researchers argue that evidence from nuclear genes supports a multiregional origin.

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