Year in review: How humans populated the globe | Science News



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Year in review: How humans populated the globe

Genetic studies offer new insights into the ancient exodus out of Africa

7:37am, December 14, 2016
Enga cultural show

GENETIC JOURNEY Recent genetic analyses suggest that natives of Papua New Guinea, shown here during a traditional Enga cultural show in 2015, descend from people who left their Africa homeland some 72,000 years ago.

No paper or digital trails document ancient humans’ journey out of Africa to points around the globe. Fortunately, those intrepid travelers left a DNA trail. Genetic studies released in 2016 put a new molecular spin on humans’ long-ago migrations. These investigations also underscore the long trek ahead for scientists trying to reconstruct Stone Age road trips.

“I’m beginning to suspect that the ancient out-of-Africa process was complex, involving several migrations and subsequent extinctions,” says evolutionary geneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona.

Untangling those comings, goings and dead ends increasingly looks like a collaborative job for related lines of evolutionary research

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