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Rethinking out of Africa

Paleontologist and Royal Fellow Christopher Stringer, an originator of the Out of Africa theory of human evolution, says he is rethinking the theory based on new DNA research:

'Some of the most fascinating ongoing research topics in the next year or two will be homing in on the DNA that some of us have acquired from Neanderthals, that some people have acquired from the Denisovans, and that some African people have acquired, perhaps even from Homo heidelbergensis.'

Learning that people living today may carry archaic DNA has made our origins more complex and mysterious than thought.

Stringer also notes:

. . .Advances like CT technology give you access to far more, and far richer, data. I was limited to the craniometric points on skulls where I could put my measuring instruments. But with CT, you can capture the whole shape of a specimen, of course. You can look at the internal cranial morphology, the sinuses, the inner ear bones of Neanderthals, which we now know are differently shaped from our own. We only learned that through CT technology, so all of that has made a huge difference to what we can get out of our fossils. . .

British scientist Godfrey Hounsfield invented the CT scan. South African Allan Cormack, who did theoretical work on a similar device, shared the Nobel Prize with him in 1979.

Humans seem capable of inventing extraordinary things, but what remains unknown is staggering. Stringer observes that the question 'what makes a modern human a modern human?' remains unanswered.

What a question! It fairly pulses with unintended irony.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

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