Aliens from Outer Time? Why the "Human Revolution" Is Wrong, and Where Do We Go from Here?

Joao Zilhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

For the better part of the last quarter of a century, the "Human Revolution" paradigm both framed and inspired most research on modern human origins. It brought together genetic, archaeological and paleontological data to form a coherent narrative of recent human evolution positing that all present-day populations derived from a speciation event in East Africa that, some 150,000 years ago, generated a small founder group of anatomically, cognitively and behaviorally fully modern people. The rest would have been history: subsequent Out-of-Africa dispersal of these early African moderns, entailing the inevitable replacement, without admixture, of the less advanced, outcompeted species of Eurasian archaics, namely the Neandertals. Recent empirical developments have falsified the basic tenets of these views. The archaeology and paleontology of the time of contact now show that Neandertals and moderns featured similar levels of cultural achievement, that symbolic artifacts and personal ornaments had emerged in Neandertal Europe many millennia before the first in-dispersals of modern humans, and that significant admixture occurred as a result of such dispersals, as evidenced by the presence in post-contact populations of diagnostically Neandertal anatomical and cultural traits. The fossil DNA evidence is consistent with these results. Neandertals, therefore, can no longer be considered an evolutionary dead-end and productive explanations for their differentiation and eventual demise now must be sought in the realms of biogeography, demography and paleoethnography.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCONTINUITY AND DISCONTINUITY IN THE PEOPLING OF EUROPE: ONE HUNDRED FIFTY YEARS OF NEANDERTHAL STUDY
EditorsS Condemi, GC Weniger
Place of PublicationDORDRECHT
PublisherSpringer
Pages331-366
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-0491-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventInternational Congress to Commemorate 150 Years of Neanderthal Discoveries, 1856-2006 - Bonn, Germany
Duration: 21 Jul 200626 Jul 2006

Conference

ConferenceInternational Congress to Commemorate 150 Years of Neanderthal Discoveries, 1856-2006
CountryGermany
CityBonn
Period21/07/0626/07/06

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