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Africa is our ancestral homeland

Africa - Mankind's nursery?


Discovery finds out how the geography of Africa made it the ideal place for home of human ancestors.

In paleoanthropology, the single-origin hypothesis - otherwise known as the Out-of-Africa model - is one of two accounts of the origin of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens.

This hypothesis holds that modern Homo sapiens evolved from a single, geographically localised, ancestral hominid population, localised in Africa, whose descendants ultimately replaced all other sub-species.

The other theory is the multiregional hypothesis, which claims that our common genetic inheritance is attributable to hominid species, or subspecies geographically dispersed across the landmasses at the time.

However, a hypothesis also exists that all living humans have a female line of descent from a woman whom researchers have dubbed Mitochondrial Eve, who lived on the African continent about 150,000 years ago.

Africa may indeed be our ancestral homeland: the place where our species evolved. Ethiopia is the country where palaeontologists have found the full fossilised sequence of our human ancestors, going back millions of years.

Discovery's Geoff Watts has travelled to Addis Ababa to meet Ethiopia's leading researchers into early man, Dr Berhane Asfaw, and his colleagues at the National Museum.

Geoff will be finding out about the geographical features of this region of Africa that have helped to preserve its past were also those that made it an ideal place for our ancestors to live.

Berhane Asfaw also explains why he has stayed working in Ethiopia, rather than leaving to work in the USA or Europe where most palaeontological research takes place.
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