Testing modern human out-of-Africa dispersal models and implications for modern human origins

Hugo Reyes-Centeno, Mark Hubbe, Tsunehiko Hanihara, Chris Stringer, Katerina Harvati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The modern human expansion process out of Africa has important implications for understanding the genetic and phenotypic structure of extant populations. While intensely debated, the primary hypotheses focus on either a single dispersal or multiple dispersals out of the continent. Here, we use the human fossil record from Africa and the Levant, as well as an exceptionally large dataset of Holocene human crania sampled from Asia, to model ancestor-descendant relationships along hypothetical dispersal routes. We test the spatial and temporal predictions of competing out-of-Africa models by assessing the correlation of geographical distances between populations and measures of population differentiation derived from quantitative cranial phenotype data. Our results support a model in which extant Australo-Melanesians are descendants of an initial dispersal out of Africa by early anatomically modern humans, while all other populations are descendants of a later migration wave. Our results have implications for understanding the complexity of modern human origins and diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
StatePublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. Chris Stringer's research is supported by the Human Origins Research Fund and the Calleva Foundation . We thank Mark Teaford, the guest editors, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions, which greatly enhanced the quality of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Anatomically modern humans
  • Anthropogeny
  • Quantitative genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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