Humans: Demographic History


The genome of our species preserves a record of population dynamics – changes in size and of subdivision into partially isolated demes. Genetic data have revealed that our humans arose from a small population, with as few as several thousand members, during the last interglacial period. Since then, we have spread rapidly over the earth.

Keywords: demography; modern human origins; Bushman model; Yanomami model; population growth; demographic history; warfare

Figure 1.

Gene tree from a population of constant size.

Figure 2.

Gene tree from a population that grew rapidly.

Figure 3.

Mismatch distribution of 636 mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid sequences using 411 bases of the hypervariable segment. It is smooth and unimodal, consistent with a history of population expansion six units of mutational time in the past.

Figure 4.

Frequency spectrum of mutations in 636 mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid sequences using 411 bases of the hypervariable segment. The histogram shows the observed number of mutations in each frequency category while the ×'s show the expected numbers under the neutral constant population size model.



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Harpending, Henry(Dec 2007) Humans: Demographic History. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005077.pub2]