"...the behaviour of most present day humans remains moderated by magical thinking-type mental processes (lack of integration between the left prefrontal cortical areas and memory), underwritten by sub-optimal cause and effect perception."

Robert G. Bednarik, An aetiology of hominin behaviour, Homo, 2012

Monday, 15 September 2014

Where did "modern humans" come from?

Mostly Out Of Africa, or mostly making it up as we go along…

Where did modern humans come from? A frequent question, the lead response to which that Google users are referred towards is from the National History Museum web site. So directed, readers will learn that:

“The latest genetic evidence is putting an intriguing twist on current thinking about how our species evolved. While an increasing wealth of data supports a recent African origin, new studies suggest that when Homo sapiens left Africa, rather than simply replacing archaic human species such as Neanderthals in other parts of the world, they interbred with some of them.”

Recent African Origin Model

Let us examine some of the “evidence” offered up in support of the standard dogma regarding “modern human” origins.

“The Recent African Origin model was given a huge boost in 1987, when a paper published in the scientific journal Nature, Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution, rocked the palaeoanthropology world. It showed that part of our genome, inherited only through mothers and daughters, derived from an African ancestor about 200,000 years ago. This female ancestor became known as Mitochondrial Eve.”

Whilst no reference is supplied for the 1987 paper it is probably safe to conclude that it refers to the work of Cann et al (1987). Alluding to the significant resistance generated in response to the Nature paper the Natural History Museum does not report that the results were flawed from start to finish but rather that the results reported supported their in-house “expert” Chris Stringer and “others”.

“Although the paper was contested, the results strongly supported the views that the Natural History Museum’s human origins expert Chris Stringer and others had been developing that we had a recent African origin.”

In fact, at that point Stringer was still peddling the older Out Of Africa (OOA) model which insisted upon a replacement of all hominins by “modern humans” out of Africa. No mention is made of the false datings created by Protsch which were in no small part the basis of this theory which was questionable even then given the existing evidence.

Contrary to the claim of the article the data did not show that part of our genome derived from an African ancestor about 200,000 years ago, although this was the authors’ interpretation. For example, Maddison (1991) demonstrated that a reanalysis of the data could produce 10,000 haplotype trees that were more parsimonious than the one selected by Cann et al in 1987. Not only this, but the more likely candidates tended to have basal branches that were non-African.

Further, Dr. Alan Templeton, who designed the program used by Cann et al to produce the erroneous results, soon pointed out that the same data could have produced 10267 alternative and equally credible haplotype trees (by comparison there are 1070 elementary particles in the universe) (Bednarik 2011).

Whether by design or by error Cann et al also miscalculated the results by over-estimating the genetic diversity of Africans compared to Europeans and Asians: thereby skewing the results in favour of an African origin.

As if these errors were not bad enough, Cann et al made a fundamental mistake. They conflated genetic diversity with more ancient origins for which there is no evidence (Klyosov 2014).

“In the following decade, more genetic data both from recent human people and Neanderthal fossils were collected supporting the Recent African Origin model. The idea gained momentum and with it the view that when modern humans began to leave Africa around 60,000 years ago they largely or entirely replaced other archaic human species outside the continent.”

At least here the Natural History Museum report accurately what happened. “…data… …were collected supporting the Recent African Origin model”. Science however does not work by collecting data to support a theory. Science works when it attempts to refute hypotheses, by collecting data that challenges a theory (refutation) which was amounting in the background. Pleistocene Archaeology historically works by suppressing data that challenges the dominant narrative and in this instance the behaviour of the discipline was not an exception to the rule. It is no exaggeration to conclude that the “idea” that modern humans originate from Africa around 60,000 years ago caught on, precisely because it was not rigorously tested in any of the leading journals. Any challenges to the dominating narrative are ignored, ridiculed or marginalised.

Amongst the most vociferous promoters of the African Origin theory was Chris Stringer and he subsequently presented the theory as fact, as did many of the “others”. Consequently the mainstream media dutifully echoed the conclusions of the High Priesthood of Archaeology regarding “modern human” origins and the gullible masses followed suit consuming and imbedding another factoid into their belief systems.

It is worth pausing here for a moment to consider where the figure of 60,000 years springs from? Your guess is as good as mine. Various unsupported dates were touted in support of a migration from Africa replacing the extant population of Europe, e.g.;

“50 thousand years ago” (Jobling & Tyler-Smith, 2003). “50 thousand years ago” (Thomson et al, 2000). “50 - 60 thousand years ago” (Shi et al., 2010). “50 - 60 thousand years ago” (Mellars, 2011). “50 - 70 thousand years ago” (Hudjasov et al., 2007). “50 - 70 thousand years ago” (Stoneking & Delfin, 2010). “60 thousand years ago” (Li & Durbin, 2011). “60 thousand years ago” (Henn et al., 2011). “60 thousand years ago” (Wei et al., 2013). “60 - 70 thousand years ago” (Ottoni et al., 2010). “60 - 80 thousand years ago” (Forster, 2004). “54 ± 8 thousand years ago” (Forster et al., 2001). “60 thousand years ago” (Stewart & Stringer, 2012). “45 - 50 thousand years ago” (Fernandes et al., 2012). “50 - 65 thousand years ago” (Behar et al., 2008). “50 - 60 thousand years ago” (Cann, 2013). “60 thousand years ago” (Chiaroni et al., 2009). “50 - 75 thousand years ago” (Patin et al., 2009). “50 thousand years ago” (Edmonds et al., 2004). “45 thousand years ago” (Moorjani et al., 2011). “50 - 70 thousand years ago” (Xue et al., 2005). “70 - 80 thousand years ago” (Majumder, 2010). “40 thousand years ago” (Campbell & Tishkoff, 2010). “50 thousand years ago” (Poznik et al., 2013). “60 thousand years ago” (Rito et al., 2013). “55 - 70 thousand years ago” (Soares et al., 2009). “between 40 and 70 thousand years ago” (Sahoo et al., 2006). “between 35 and 89 thousand years ago” (Underhill et al., 2000). “between 80 and 50 thousand years ago” (Yotova et al., 2011). “between 50 and 100 thousand years ago” (Hublin, 2011). “between 27 - 53 and 58 - 112 thousand years ago” (Carrigan & Hammer, 2006). “70 - 60 thousand years ago” (Curnoe et al., 2012). “~110 thousand years ago” (Francalacci et al., 2013). “200 thousand years ago” (Hayden, 2013).” List from Klyosov (2014).

Somewhere along the line a figure of “around 60-80,000 years ago” appears to have been settled on by consent. Another grand example of the scientific precision applied by Pleistocene Archaeology in its’ attempts to describe the human past by moderating popular opinion.

The Multiregional Model is described only briefly with little enthusiasm whereas the Assimilation Model (which is really nothing more than another attempt to salvage OOA) is implicitly given more credence, even going to the extent of highlighting certain text:

“Another group of scientists embraced a third theory – the Assimilation model. Like the recent African origin model, this gave Africa a key role as the place where modern human features evolved, but it imagined a much more gradual spread of those features.”

Under the title “New insights from DNA evidence” it is explained that “Neanderthal” DNA is present in present day Europeans, however, what is not explained is that this refuted the original Out Of Africa theory which demanded that these Africans were unable to interbreed with all other contemporary hominins. The same of course goes for the evidence of “Denisovan” DNA.

Recent Out Of Africa, by conceding that “modern humans” interbreed with “Neanderthals” and indeed “Denisovans” is essentially in accordance with Weidenreichs original trellis diagram of 1947 which is… multiregional.

The page concludes by stating:

“The Neanderthal and Denisovan genetic studies have given our understanding of our ancient past an exciting twist. Both indicate that modern humans did not completely replace other human species, as had once been suggested. Instead there was some interbreeding. This model has become known as replacement-hybridisation, ‘leaky replacement’, or ‘mostly out of Africa’.”

Since Stringer (and others) have painted themselves into a corner by stating such things as “we now know” that “modern humans” originated from Africa it is critical that the final point should be made that this is NOT a scenario the genetic data supports. Klyosov (2014) demonstrates that (see Figure 4, my highlighting):

“The tree shows the α-haplogroup, which is apparently equivalent to haplogroup A1b in the current nomenclature, and is ancestral to both the African and non-African haplogroups (its common ancestor lived 160,000 ± 12,000 ya), and the β-haplogroup, which is equivalent to haplogroup BT in the current classification (its common ancestor lived 64,000 ± 6000 ya).”

The genetic data therefore shows only that Non-Africans and Africans descend from a common ancestor at approximately 160,000 years ago. Any other interpretation is mostly making it up as we go along.



Bednarik, R. G. 2011. The Human Condition, Developments in Primatology, Progress and Prospects, Springer, New York.

Cann, R. L., M. Stoneking and A. C. Wilson 1987, Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution. Nature 325: 31-36.

Klyosov, A. A. 2014. Reconsideration of the “Out of Africa” Concept as Not Having Enough Proof. Advances in Anthropology 4(1): 18-37.

Maddison, D. R. 1991. African origin of human MtDNA re-examined. Systematic Zoology 40: 355.

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