Researchers Make Bold Claim About Human Origins

Controversial study argues all modern humans originated in Botswana
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2019 1:58 PM CDT
Updated Nov 2, 2019 3:00 PM CDT
Researchers Make Bold Claim About Human Origins
A file photo of researcher Vanessa Hayes, at left, completing research in Africa.   (AP Photo/Penn State, Stephan Schuster)

Where you from? If the authors of a controversial new study are correct, everyone on the planet has the same answer: Botswana, Africa. More specifically, a northern swath of the country, along with small parts of Namibia and Zimbabwe. Researchers led by geneticist Vanessa Hayes of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney studied the genomes of 1,200 indigenous Africans and concluded that the ancestors of every human got their start 200,000 years ago in this region, reports Live Science. The forebears stayed there roughly 70,000 years before a changing climate prompted people to leave for all corners of the earth, says Hayes' team, per CNN. The study—published in Nature—zeroed in on the L0 lineage, one of the oldest DNA lineages on the planet and one that is passed down through mothers.

“We have known for a long time that modern humans originated in Africa and roughly 200,000 years ago, but what we hadn’t known until this study was where exactly,” says Hayes. It's a bold claim, but the Atlantic notes that it's already generating controversy. “The conclusions are far-fetched and very much overstated,” says geneticist Carina Schlebusch of Uppsala University. The study "tells us very little about human origins as a whole. It only tells us about the origin of a very small part of the human genome, and nothing more.” At the National History Museum in London, Chris Stringer sounds a similar note, per the Guardian. "Like so many studies that concentrate on one small bit of the genome, or one region, or one stone tool industry, or one ‘critical’ fossil, it cannot capture the full complexity of our mosaic origins, once other data are considered.” (Read more early humans stories.)

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