Australia Challenges Out-of-Africa Theory

ByABC News
January 9, 2001, 9:54 AM

S Y D N EY, Jan. 9 -- Australian scientists saidtoday they had analyzed the oldest DNA ever taken from humanremains, and that the results challenge the theory that modernhumans evolved from African ancestors alone.

Researchers at Australian National University said they hadanalyzed DNA taken from remains unearthed in 1974 at Lake Mungoin the state of New South Wales. Dating in May 1999 put the ageof the skeletal remains at between 56,000 and 68,000 years old.

ANU anthropologist Alan Thorne said that neither MungoMans completely modern skeleton nor its DNA had any linkswith human ancestors from Africa found in other parts of theworld.

Neither of them [the skeleton or DNA] show any evidencethat they ever were in Africa, Thorne told Reuters. Theresmodern humans in Australia that have nothing to do with Africaat all.

The findings, revealed in The Australian newspaper today, challenge the prevailing out of Africa theory ofevolution because Mungo Man has a genetic line which hasvanished yet his skeleton is completely modern.

The out of Africa theory holds that modern humans evolvedfrom a common homo erectus ancestor in Africa.

Homo sapiens then left Africa and spread across the worldbetween 150,000 and 100,000 years ago.

The ANU researchers say that because Mungo Man is modernanatomically, yet has a vanished DNA line, it means at leastone group of homo erectus descendants evolved outside ofAfrica.

Under the counter regional continuity theory which Thornesupports, modern man evolved from homo erectus in severaldifferent places what is now Africa, Europe, east Asia andwest Asia followed by interbreeding between the regions.

Everywhere was becoming modern at roughly the same rate,Thorne said. As they are today, genes were flowing fromShanghai to Paris, from Singapore to Cape Town.