Clarifying distinct models of modern human origins in Africa

Brenna M Henn, Teresa E Steele, Timothy D Weaver
Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 2018, 53: 148-156
Accumulating genomic, fossil and archaeological data from Africa have led to a renewed interest in models of modern human origins. However, such discussions are often discipline-specific, with limited integration of evidence across the different fields. Further, geneticists typically require explicit specification of parameters to test competing demographic models, but these have been poorly outlined for some scenarios. Here, we describe four possible models for the origins of Homo sapiens in Africa based on published literature from paleoanthropology and human genetics. We briefly outline expectations for data patterns under each model, with a special focus on genetic data. Additionally, we present schematics for each model, doing our best to qualitatively describe demographic histories for which genetic parameters can be specifically attached. Finally, it is our hope that this perspective provides context for discussions of human origins in other manuscripts presented in this special issue.

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