Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Human migration from africa

From the New York Times : care of Volokh Conspiracy
A team of geneticists believe they have shed light on many aspects of how modern humans emigrated from Africa by analyzing the DNA of the Orang Asli, the original inhabitants of Malaysia. Because the Orang Asli appears to be directly descended from the first emigrants from Africa, they have provided valuable new clues about that momentous event in early human history.
The geneticists conclude that there was only one migration of modern humans out of Africa - that it took a southern route to India, Southeast Asia and Australasia, and consisted of a single band of hunter-gatherers, probably just a few hundred people strong.

What is interesting about this is that it takes some time to travel that far and their implication is that it was not population pressures that were driving them - there was some other reason.

My guess is that it was something religious with a scope that could keep this group motivated across many generations - in this sense the migration out of Africa itself may have represented a selection for religiousness.

However I am a little confused by their argument that there was only one migration - clearly by the demographics of Malaysia there were many from their point of view (although not in general from Africa). So what they are really trying to say is that after the first migration somewhere else set itself up as the cradle from which new more competitive humans emerged. This would be a little surprising if it happened immediatly since a tribe of 100 peopel traveling ot australia will only have a few spare to leave in china or india in order to build a comunity there to compete against potentially millions in africa in the evolutionary race.


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