Humans emerged 'out of Africa' again and again

St. Louis, March 6, 2002, 1 p.m. CST Analyses of recently derived human genetic trees by Alan R. Templeton, Ph.D, of Washington University in St Louis, show that there were at least two major waves of human migration out of Africa. DNA evidence suggests also that these wanderers bred with the people they encountered, rather than replaced them, in a "make- love-not-war,"scenario.

Templeton, Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, combined evidence from many different populations and many different genes in an analysis to reconstruct their movement and history.

Africa has played a dominant role in shaping the modern gene pool through successive population expansions, he says in the March 7, 2002 issue of Nature. But these populations interbreeding with resident populations means that genetic interchange between populations has occurred everywhere throughout history.

Templeton analyzed human genetic trees for maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA, paternally inherited Y-chromosomal DNA, and eight other DNA regions , including two on the X chromosome, to reach his conclusions. He used a computer program called GEODIS, which he created in 1995 and later modified with the help of David Posada, Ph.D., and Keith Crandall, Ph.D. at Brigham Young University, to determine genetic relationships among and within populations based on an examination of specific haplotypes, clusters of genes that are inherited as a unit. Templetons study is based on 10 DNA regions, while most other genetic analyses focus on just one, mitochondrial DNA, for instance. It also differs from most approaches because it uses a statistical approach with a priori inference criteria but requires no prior model of human evolution. Most others have a model in mind, and then see if the data are compatible with it.

GEODIS analyses place an older expansion out of Africa between 420,000 and 840,000 years ago and a more recent one between 80,

Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
Washington University in St. Louis

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