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date: 30 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

According to the most widely accepted account of modern human origins, the first representatives of Homo sapiens appeared in Africa at approximately 200 000 BP and subsequently dispersed into Europe, Asia, and other regions. The evolution of behavioural modernity, characterized by hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies and symbolic cognitive capabilities, is thought to have occurred later, either during the Middle Stone Age at about 80 000 BP in Africa, or after 40 000 BP in the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe. However, rigorous debates about modern human origins continue amid new genetic analyses suggesting that early modern humans and other species such as the Neanderthals did in fact interbreed. This paper reviews the evidence for modern human origins in Africa from palaeontological, archaeological, and genetic perspectives, and argues that the popular 200 000 BP Replacement model is too simplistic to account for the complex evolutionary processes involved in our biological and behavioural origins.

Keywords: Africa, modern human origins, replacement, continuity, Middle Stone Age, modernity, mitochondrial DNA, coalescence date

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