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      The status of Homo heidelbergensis (Schoetensack 1908)

      Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
      Wiley

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          Abstract

          The species Homo heidelbergensis is central to many discussions about recent human evolution. For some workers, it was the last common ancestor for the subsequent species Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis; others regard it as only a European form, giving rise to the Neanderthals. Following the impact of recent genomic studies indicating hybridization between modern humans and both Neanderthals and "Denisovans", the status of these as separate taxa is now under discussion. Accordingly, clarifying the status of Homo heidelbergensis is fundamental to the debate about modern human origins. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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          Most cited references42

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          Out of Africa: modern human origins special feature: the origin of Neandertals.

          J Hublin (2009)
          Western Eurasia yielded a rich Middle (MP) and Late Pleistocene (LP) fossil record documenting the evolution of the Neandertals that can be analyzed in light of recently acquired paleogenetical data, an abundance of archeological evidence, and a well-known environmental context. Their origin likely relates to an episode of recolonization of Western Eurasia by hominins of African origin carrying the Acheulean technology into Europe around 600 ka. An enhancement of both glacial and interglacial phases may have played a crucial role in this event, as well as in the subsequent evolutionary history of the Western Eurasian populations. In addition to climatic adaptations and an increase in encephalization, genetic drift seems to have played a major role in their evolution. To date, a clear speciation event is not documented, and the most likely scenario for the fixation of Neandertal characteristics seems to be an accretion of features along the second half of the MP. Although a separation time for the African and Eurasian populations is difficult to determine, it certainly predates OIS 11 as phenotypic Neandertal features are documented as far back as and possibly before this time. It is proposed to use the term "Homo rhodesiensis" to designate the large-brained hominins ancestral to H. sapiens in Africa and at the root of the Neandertals in Europe, and to use the term "Homo neanderthalensis" to designate all of the specimens carrying derived metrical or non-metrical features used in the definition of the LP Neandertals.
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            Modern human origins: progress and prospects.

            The question of the mode of origin of modern humans (Homo sapiens) has dominated palaeoanthropological debate over the last decade. This review discusses the main models proposed to explain modern human origins, and examines relevant fossil evidence from Eurasia, Africa and Australasia. Archaeological and genetic data are also discussed, as well as problems with the concept of 'modernity' itself. It is concluded that a recent African origin can be supported for H. sapiens, morphologically, behaviourally and genetically, but that more evidence will be needed, both from Africa and elsewhere, before an absolute African origin for our species and its behavioural characteristics can be established and explained.
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              Genetic evidence for archaic admixture in Africa.

              A long-debated question concerns the fate of archaic forms of the genus Homo: did they go extinct without interbreeding with anatomically modern humans, or are their genes present in contemporary populations? This question is typically focused on the genetic contribution of archaic forms outside of Africa. Here we use DNA sequence data gathered from 61 noncoding autosomal regions in a sample of three sub-Saharan African populations (Mandenka, Biaka, and San) to test models of African archaic admixture. We use two complementary approximate-likelihood approaches and a model of human evolution that involves recent population structure, with and without gene flow from an archaic population. Extensive simulation results reject the null model of no admixture and allow us to infer that contemporary African populations contain a small proportion of genetic material (≈ 2%) that introgressed ≈ 35 kya from an archaic population that split from the ancestors of anatomically modern humans ≈ 700 kya. Three candidate regions showing deep haplotype divergence, unusual patterns of linkage disequilibrium, and small basal clade size are identified and the distributions of introgressive haplotypes surveyed in a sample of populations from across sub-Saharan Africa. One candidate locus with an unusual segment of DNA that extends for >31 kb on chromosome 4 seems to have introgressed into modern Africans from a now-extinct taxon that may have lived in central Africa. Taken together our results suggest that polymorphisms present in extant populations introgressed via relatively recent interbreeding with hominin forms that diverged from the ancestors of modern humans in the Lower-Middle Pleistocene.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
                Evol. Anthropol.
                Wiley
                10601538
                May 2012
                May 2012
                June 20 2012
                : 21
                : 3
                : 101-107
                Article
                10.1002/evan.21311
                22718477
                dc9225bf-edb1-4c8a-93d7-a44f5c1592be
                © 2012

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

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                Self URI (article page): http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/evan.21311

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