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Reconstruction of human evolution: bringing together genetic, archaeological, and linguistic data.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Language, Humans, Genetic Markers, Biological Evolution, Archaeology

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      The genetic information for this work came from a very large collection of gene frequencies for "classical" (non-DNA) polymorphisms of the world aborigines. The data were grouped in 42 populations studied for 120 alleles. The reconstruction of human evolutionary history thus generated was checked with statistical techniques such as "boot-strapping". It changes some earlier conclusions and is in agreement with more recent ones, including published and unpublished DNA-marker results. The first split in the phylogenetic tree separates Africans from non-Africans, and the second separates two major clusters, one corresponding to Caucasoids, East Asians, Arctic populations, and American natives, and the other to Southeast Asians (mainland and insular), Pacific islanders, and New Guineans and Australians. Average genetic distances between the most important clusters are proportional to archaeological separation times. Linguistic families correspond to groups of populations with very few, easily understood overlaps, and their origin can be given a time frame. Linguistic superfamilies show remarkable correspondence with the two major clusters, indicating considerable parallelism between genetic and linguistic evolution. The latest step in language development may have been an important factor determining the rapid expansion that followed the appearance of modern humans and the demise of Neanderthals.

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