A scientific consortium has found that human ancestors were scattered across Africa, and largely kept apart by a combination of diverse habitats and shifting environmental boundaries, such as forests and deserts. Millennia of separation gave rise to a staggering diversity of human forms, whose mixing ultimately shaped our species.
“Convergent evidence from these different fields stresses the importance of considering population structure in our models of human evolution,” says co-author Dr. Lounes Chikhi of the CNRS in Toulouse and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Lisbon.“This complex history of population subdivision should thus lead us to question current models of ancient population size changes, and perhaps re-interpret some of the old bottlenecks as changes in connectivity,” he added.
“The evolution of human populations in Africa was multi-regional. Our ancestry was multi-ethnic. And the evolution of our material culture was, well, multi-cultural,” said Dr Scerri. “We need to look at all regions of Africa to understand human evolution.”