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Out of Africa

Ethan Tecumseh Vishniac ethan at ut-emx.uucp
Thu Nov 21 10:08:56 EST 1991

I've found this discussion quite enjoyable, but a nagging question

Given a single origin for our subspecies, the various lines of
evidence do seem to strongly point to Africa (and more specifically,
not the northern shore of Africa) as the likely locale.  However,
I had always been told that the competing hypothesis these days
is not a Eurasian origin, but that local populations evolved
through a series of contacts with more advanced populations, so that
(for example) modern Europeans still have a substantial Neanderthal
ancestry.  Certainly the mitochondrial evidence suggests that this
was not the case, but proponents of the idea have argued that the
`clock' of the mitochrondrial work is off by a factor of a few.

Any comments?  I have no emotional ties to any side in this debate since
I can't see any rational implications for racial politics in modern
America (but then, using `rational' and `racial politics' in the same
sentence is probably wishful thinking).  I tend to agree that the simplest
explanation of the data is that our subspecies originated as a small group
in Africa a little over 100,000 years ago.  I'm just trying to decide
how tentatively one should present these conclusions when lecturing to
"Why are they all dressed like* Ethan Vishniac, Dept of Astronomy, 
 Geeks?" - Dan Quayle after   * The University of Texas at Austin
 addressing a meeting of the  * ethan at astro.AS.UTEXAS.EDU
 American Astronmical Society *

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