Eve Came From Africa

The Neanderthal. A German world star, a European "special model" of evolution, who, ever since the mid-nineteenth century, has given the science of paleoanthropology enough fossil fodder to research the origin of the human family. One who, after decades of false valuation as the dumb brute of the stone age, has been transformed into the clever hunter. It has taken a long time for the Neanderthals to become the best-researched archaic humans. That they have taught present-day humankind that there used to be other sorts of humans than those of the present appears revolutionary enough in itself. That the find that gave them their name still produces headlines 150 years after its discovery in the Neander Valley is astonishing, dealing as it does "only" with old bones. But these very old bones unlocked a secret in 1997, using the most modern technology, that for the first time ended the long debate about the relationship between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis: Neanderthals are not our ancestors. These, one and all, originated in Africa—whether pre-human, primitive human, early human, or modern human (Figure 18). We all have genetic material in our mortal remains that can still provide evidence after our death that we are descended from the family of the African primal Eve and the African primal Adam.

While the Neanderthals were developing in Europe, the modern humans, or at least their ancestors, emerged in Africa about 200,000 to 500,000 years ago. The oldest representative of our modern primal family discovered to date is the c. 160,000-year-old Herto Man (Figure 19), whose skull was found in Ethiopia's Afar Depression along with two other modern humans. More fossils of our early modern forebears come from South Africa. The finds at Klasies River Mouth and Border Cave produced ages of 100,000 and 150,000 years. Another modern human skeleton, recently dated to 210,000 years BP, comes from the Kibish Formation in

Figure 18 Two main phases of emigration from Africa can be demonstrated for Homo erectus (about 2 million years ago, and about

800,000 years ago) (above). Modern humans (Homo sapiens) left Africa in several phases beginning about 120,000 years ago (opposite).

Figure 18 Two main phases of emigration from Africa can be demonstrated for Homo erectus (about 2 million years ago, and about

800,000 years ago) (above). Modern humans (Homo sapiens) left Africa in several phases beginning about 120,000 years ago (opposite).

Million Year Homo South Africa 2011
Figure 19 Homo sapiens came from Africa: the Herto skull, with an age of 160,000 years, is the oldest remains of a modern human yet found. The skull, uncovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia in 2003, supports the "Out of Africa" hypothesis in the debate about the origin of modern humans.

the Omo Basin of southern Ethiopia. Early archaic Homo sapiens types, represented by the skull from Bodo (Ethiopia), the skull from Lake Ndutu west of Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), the Kabwe skull (Zambia), and the finds from Salé (Morocco) and Eyasi (Tanzania) have been established within a chronological level of 200,000 to 500,000 years. Further transitional forms from the period 100,000-200,000 years bp have been found at the South African Florisbad, Eliye Springs (Kenya), Laetoli (Tanzania), and Jebel Irhoud in Morocco.

The fossil bones of modern humans from Africa tell an unmistakable tale, thanks to the location of the finds: at the latest about 160,000 years ago the first modern humans emerged in Africa, but by 120,000 years ago they could be found in the Near East in the Levant (Figure 18). The fossils from Qafzeh near Nazareth in northern Israel and Skhul near Haifa, whose age has been fixed at 100,000-120,000 or 80,000-100,000 years by radiocarbon dating, are the oldest evidence yet discovered of modern humans' emigration from Africa. Both the African and the Israelite finds support a theory known as the "Out of Africa" hypothesis. Viewed geographically, according to this theory Africa is the origination point of anatomically modern humans. From Africa they spread out and settled the entire world. How much they associated with other human types like the Neanderthals in the process, whether they displaced them or simply lived with them, is among the many speculations that have been aired again and again in past years. Against the purely African origin model is the multiregional hypothesis, which argues that modern humans originated on different continents—in Asia, Europe, and Africa—from regional ancestors. In this model, interbreeding with Neanderthals also entered the picture as a possible source of the Europeans. Likewise, discussions about the development of Cro-Magnon Man (the oldest discovered European) and the Neanderthal as a possible ancestor have fanned the quarrel between the proponents of the two theories. But neither of the two hypotheses offered a satisfying answer to the question of whether modern humans supplanted, replaced, or assimilated the now-extinct Neanderthals, or indeed if the Neanderthals were our direct ancestors.

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