Reconstructing Recent Human Evolution

Christopher B. Stringer

Abstract

The two most distinct models of recent human evolution, the multiregional and the recent African origin models, have different retrodictions concerning specific archaic-recent population relationships. The former model infers multiple regional archaic-modern connections and the ancient establishment of regional characteristics, whereas the latter model implies only an African archaic-all modern relationship, with recent (late Pleistocene) development of regionality. In this paper, four late archaic groups from Europe, southwest Asia, Africa and East Asia are compared with various fossil and recent Homo sapiens crania or cranial samples. The results of Penrose shape comparisons narrowly favour a late archaic African-modern special relationship over an East Asian-modern one, with European and southwest Asian Neanderthal groups much more distant. No specific archaic-recent regional relationships are indicated in the shape analyses, nor in separate examinations of patterns of regionality, which indicate a recent origin for present day regionality. The Skhul-Qafzeh sample provides an excellent shape intermediate between the archaic and recent samples.