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Year in review: How humans populated the globe

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

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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.

#6 - 2016 Top TenNo 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.

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