mountains and follow the game and the rivers."
The penetration of the Eurasian land mass would have brought modern humans into direct conflict with the archaic humans who had long possessed it, certainly with the Neanderthals in the west and perhaps with Homo erectus in the east. Possibly this invasion was delayed for many generations until the innovative moderns had developed the necessary weapons and tactics to defeat the archaics or perhaps, less dramatically, until they had evolved the genetic adaptations for living in cold climates. The interaction between these different human species is of the greatest interest, but so far there is little data to go on, except the stark fact that one survived and all others perished. In the east, for lack of archaeological studies, it is not yet known how widespread were the populations of Homo erectus, or whether in fact their disappearance had anything to do with the advance of the moderns. But the two human species did overlap in various ways, according to two quite unexpected pieces of recent evidence. The first comes from that intimate observer of human evolution, the human body louse. David Reed, a louse specialist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, has found that people around the world carry two distinct groups of body lice that look alike but have genetically different histories. He made the discovery by constructing genealogies of the lice's mitochondrial DNA, just like other geneticists have done for people. But whereas all human mitochondrial DNA falls on the branches of a single tree, the louse DNA falls into two separate clusters. One of the clusters matches the human mitochondrial DNA tree both in date and geographical distribution, just as would be expected if the lice had divided into separate populations like their human hosts after the dispersal from Africa. The second cluster of louse DNA coalesces with the first but only in the distant past, some 1.8 million years ago, as if it had been living for most of the time on a different host.
Lice are highly specialized organisms and human lice cannot live for more than a few hours away from the warmth and sustenance of the human body. So this second cluster of lice must have been living on humans; it's just that they were of a different species, Dr. Reed believes. He suggests that they traveled out Africa with the ancestors of Homo erectus and much later switched across to the modern humans who came into physical contact with
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