The Molecular Evidence

The extraction of ancient mtDNA from a number of Australian Pleistocene human remains (Adcock et al., 2001) is of significance because it enables us for the first time to examine and compare early modern human mtDNA, dating between perhaps 60,000 and 8,000 years ago, with recent modern humans. Mitochondrial DNA samples have been extracted from the early "gracile" specimens from Willandra Lakes (LM 3) and later "robust" populations from Kow Swamp and the "gracile" near-Holocene Willandra Lakes bones. The LM 3 mtDNA is said to be divergent from all modern human populations, including the later Pleistocene Australians. This is at first sight surprising, given that LM 3 undoubtedly represents a modern human. Yet all it really means is that we are seeing an "extinction" over time as a result of drift and natural selection of an ancient form of modern

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