Fwd: Study suggests love conquered all

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    Study suggests love conquered all
    Early man's evolution a process of mingling, not conquest, researcher

    Robert Lee Hotz, Los Angeles Times
    Thursday, March 7, 2002
    ©2002 San Francisco Chronicle


    Spreading out of Africa like starlings, early humans conquered the world
    by embracing the strangers they encountered around the globe, not by
    forcing them into extinction, as many researchers believed, according to
    a new analysis of human genetic history.

    In the textbook view, the founding fathers of modern humanity emerged
    suddenly from Africa about 100,000 years ago and swept into oblivion all
    other prehuman species -- Neanderthals, for example -- that they

    A new and elaborate computer genealogy of 11 inherited traits compiled by
    Alan Templeton at Washington University in St. Louis presents a very
    different slant on the origins of diversity.

    Templeton's work, published today in the journal Nature, suggests that
    "interbreeding, not replacement," was the rule for successive waves of
    primitive humans migrating out of Africa. By mingling, these ancestral
    human groups "strengthened the genetic ties between human populations
    throughout the world," said Templeton, who studies the history and
    geography of genes.

    In his view, the ancient world was a vast melting pot in which tribes of
    human ancestors scattered, rejoined and scattered again. As they did so,
    they gradually intermingled inherited traits across thousands of
    generations to mix the palette of modern humanity.

    Templeton's work is the latest riposte in a 20-year-long debate in which
    anthropologists, archaeologists, molecular biologists and population
    geneticists have battled over human origins with rounds of research
    papers scattered like hand grenades.

    For all their differences, both camps agree that the earliest ancestors
    of humankind evolved in Africa about 2 million years ago, before
    beginning waves of migration into Europe and Asia.

    Where the scientists part company is in deciding how those ancestral
    groups gave rise to anatomically modern people -- with their small
    pointed jaws, smooth foreheads, high rounded skulls and advanced mental

    Frustrated by the ambiguous fossil record, researchers have turned to the
    genes that code for growth and development to flesh out this missing
    chapter of human evolutionary history.

    To reach his conclusions, Templeton combined published data on 11 parts
    of the human genome. He analyzed mitochondrial DNA -- genetic material
    that each person inherits directly from his or her mother -- as well as
    data from genes carried on the Y chromosome, which is inherited only from
    fathers. He also looked at genes on other chromosomes that can be
    inherited from either parent.

    His computer analysis detected considerable gene mixing and evidence of
    two separate waves of migration out of Africa into Asia and Europe -- the
    first between 420,000 and 840,000 years ago and a more recent one between
    80,000 and 150,000 years ago.

    Other researchers agree that there was generous mixing of valuable
    genetic traits. But they disagree about when it might have happened.

    "If those ancestral populations were all in different valleys in Africa,
    you would see the same thing," said Henry Harpending, a University of
    Utah anthropologist. "This may have been gene flow between ancestral
    populations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania."

    Templeton made a "valiant effort," but his study "all seems too iffy to
    me, " Harpending said. "Going from his findings to this sweeping picture
    of human evolution is a jump I can't see."

    But University of Michigan paleoanthropologist Milford Wolpoff said he
    felt vindicated by Templeton's work. Wolpoff has long championed the idea
    that modern humans evolved more or less simultaneously around the globe
    by sharing their best characteristics.

    Templeton's analysis "shows that human evolution is about traits and not
    about kinds of people," Wolpoff said. "Lots of things separate human
    populations, but more things unite them."

    ©2002 San Francisco Chronicle   Page A - 2

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