Multiregionalism vs Out of Africa

Anthropologists today are debating two sides to the story of the evolution of the modern human Homosapian sapian. The sides agree on two different theories called the Out of Africa theory and the Multiregional (or Candelabra) theory. The debate, which some may call a slanderous argument, is far from being resolved on either side. Both evolutionist sides have strong evidence, however, this evidence does have its flaws and is not accurate enough to prove one side over another. However, the arguments for the Out of Africa theory seem to be flawed far more than those of the Multiregional theory.

The Multiregional theory states that the hominid H. erectus. Migrated out of Africa through the north approximately one million years ago and spread throughout the rest of the world. After some time several populations of H. erectus became isolated and each followed a similar path of evolution until they developed into archaic humans. Such small populations have a selective gene pool and although each group may have proceeded to develop different rates they all managed to follow the same evolutionary lines. This theory suggests many possible movements of Homo erectus out of Africa but does not allow for any other movements out of Africa after H. erectus.

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On the other side the Out of Africa theory is drastically different. It states that Homo erectus stayed in Africa and all modern H. sapian developed in Africa. The theory is based on the idea that our modern human populations have a single source of ancestry and that we are all derived from that source called “Eve”. Once developed into H. sapian only then did the descendants of “Eve” leave Africa and begin to colonize the rest of the world over the next 100,000 years In this colonization the Out of Africa theory suggests that the humans from Africa replaced all other hominids in Europe and Asia such as Neanderthal.

About 150,000 to 100,000 years ago, while our ancestors were still in Africa, another hominid species known as Neanderthal was living in what is known today as modern Europe and the Near East. The Neanderthals, according to our fossil records, had a strength and size that is rarely attained by modern humans. The sites where muscle and ligaments connect to the bone in these fossils are enlarged and strongly marked which implies large highly developed muscles (Trinkhaus 135). Little is known about the intelligence of the Neanderthals. Their brain size is in fact larger than that of modern humans but this is not sign of more or less intelligence. The stone tool record associated with the Neanderthals has shown no progress between the 100,000 to 35,000 years which is a sign that there was little creativity and gives some clues to intelligence level. Humans, on the other hand, are physically much different from the Neanderthal. Modern humans are taller and thinner than Neanderthal and have a well-defined chin, vertical forehead, and much smaller brow ridges (Shreeve 153). Humans also create art such as Paleolithic cave paintings, stone carvings, bead and shell jewelry, and had more highly developed stone tool technology, which served a wide number of uses. None of such items were found in Neanderthal sites. These differences between humans and Neanderthal may be the reasons why the Neanderthal found its ultimate fate about 35,000 years ago and modern humans began to thrive. A current theory suggests that the Neanderthal were out competed by H. sapian. However, there are other theories that explain the disappearance of the Neanderthals. One suggests that all were killed off either by humans, other species of hominids, or by the megafauna of the time period. Another suggests that Neanderthal and H. sapian may have interbred combining their lineage with our own and in fact they could be part of out ancestry. However, there is not enough evidence from the fossils to show that there was ever any kind of interaction in between the two hominid species. The only information anthropologists have to go by is that generally Neanderthal fossils date later than 35,000 years ago and H. sapian fossils are dated at 35,000 years or less.

If we are to take one of the two main evolutionary theories as true we must understand where their sources of data are and if they are reliable or not. The basis of data for the Out of Africa theory is based on evidence gathered from research on a small part of the human genome packaged on the outside of the nuclei called Mitochondrial DNA. According to advocates of this theory Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) shows a great deal of individual variability and can be used to trace maternal generations since it is only passed down by women. Researchers used the idea that MtDNA changes occur randomly and accumulate at a constant rate in an isolated population (Bower 2). Using this rate in change Out of Africa Evolutionists have been able to date ancient population splits. Results from such research using MtDNA has lead Evolutionists to believe that we all share MtDNA which originated in a female in Africa 200,000 years ago called “Eve”.

A crucial assumption for the Out of Africa theory to be valid is that all the Mitochondrial lineages evolve at the same rate. Here is where Multiregionalists say the data is flawed. According to some researchers sections nucleotides in MtDNA undergo rapid changes even within a few generations and may not be as predictable as believed. Many Multiregionalists are questioning the accuracy of these dating methods and estimated ages for evolutionary trees and sizes of ancient populations (Bower 3).

The Out of Africa theory suggests that modern humans came out of Africa and replaced all other groups in Europe and Asia at the time. However it doesn’t seem likely to claim that one species replaced all other groups in every climate and environment (Thorne 76). According to Thorne and Wolpoff Newcomers would have been at a disadvantage in a new environment compared to groups adapted to living there such as the Neanderthal. Also Archaeologists would expect to find archaeological traces of the behaviors that made the descendants of “Eve” so successful (Thorne 76). So far none of such traces can be found

On the other hand the Multiregional theory seems to be well supported and less flawed.

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Multiregionalism vs Out of Africa. (2018, Sep 28). Retrieved from