Human Populations: Evolution


Human populations began a separate evolutionary genetic trajectory about 6 million years ago, but the common ancestors of all modern human populations share a more recent past, and generally trace back to less than 1 million years ago. Estimating the exact age of these genetic ancestors, who likely came out of Africa and dispersed around the world, depends on the particular set of genes examined.

Keywords: mitochondrial DNA; Y‐DNA; paleoanthropology; dispersal; isolation; speciation; gene flow

Further Reading

Asfaw B, Gilbert WH, Beyene Y, et al. (2002) Remains of Homo erectus from Bouri, Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Nature 416: 317–320.

Cann RL (2001) Genetic clues to dispersal in human populations: retracing the past from the present. Science 291: 1742–1748.

Cann RL, Stoneking M and Wilson AC (1987) Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution. Nature 325: 31–37.

Ding Y‐C, Wooding S, Harpending HC, et al. (2002) Population structure and history in East Asia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97: 14003–14006.

Jorde LB, Bamshad M and Rogers AR (1998) Using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers to reconstruct human evolution. BioEssays 20: 126–136.

Krings M, Capelli C, Tschentscher F, et al. (2000) A view of Neanderthal genetic diversity. Nature Genetics 26: 144–146.

Quintana‐Murci L, Semino O, Bandelt H‐J, et al. (1999) Genetic evidence of an early exit of Homo sapiens sapiens from Africa through eastern Africa. Nature Genetics 23: 437–441.

Rogers AR (1995) Genetic evidence for a Pleistocene population explosion. Evolution 49: 608–615.

Underhill PA, Shen P, Lin A, et al. (2000) Y chromosome sequence variation and history of human populations. Nature Genetics 26: 358–361.

Wolpoff MH, Hawks J, Frayer DW and Huntley K (2001) Modern human ancestry at the peripheries: a test of the replacement hypothesis. Science 291: 293–297.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Cann, Rebecca L(Jul 2006) Human Populations: Evolution. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0005075]