Friday, December 31, 2010

Nature news today: Human remains spark spat

Below is my comment at the Nature website on the Nature news report today "Human remains spark spat" about the latest 400000 year old modern human fossils from Israel.

The authors' conclusion is obviously the same as being reported by the press: "We offer the most reasonable conclusion based on the statistical evidence: that they represent the same population as the Skhul and Qafzeh finds, thus pushing the date for that type of early man back to a much earlier time." And Skhul and Qafzeh finds are by all account modern Homo Sapiens.

The Out of Africa model is based on the neutral theory interpretation of genetic diversity shown by the fast evolving sequences such as mitochondrial DNA and whole genome DNA which are mostly non coding and hence fast evolving. However, fast evolving sequences most of the time have reached maximum genetic diversity over evolutionary time scale, according to the newly proposed Maximum Genetic Diversity hypothesis (1), and are therefore no longer linearly related to time of divergence and cannot be informative to phylogenetic relationships. The correct approach is to use slowest evolving sequences such as non-synonymous changes in the most conserved or slowest evolving proteins. Try it and see which, the “Out of Africa" or "the Multiregional", will get the last laugh.

1. Huang, S. (2010) The Overlap Feature of the Genetic Equidistance Result—A Fundamental Biological Phenomenon Overlooked for Nearly Half of a Century. Biological Theory, 5: 40-52.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Others have also noticed the difference between fast and slow evolving genes in phylogeny inference

The anthropology blogger Dienekes at had a recent post on Dec 30, 2010 noticing the major difference between slow and fast evolving genes in calculating the time of origin for humans.

It is reassuring to see that others have come to the same conclusion as I have regarding the difference between slow and fast genes. The mere existence of the difference between slow and fast evolving genes is not predicted by the modern evolution theory, which is at best incomplete since it does not cover the situation when maximum genetic distance has been reached. But maximum genetic diversity hypothesis covers it and is therefore a more complete theory. The slow clock method based on this hypothesis has produced phylogeny results dramatically different from the populars ones. The results show that humans separated from the pongid clade 17.3 million years ago. For details, read a preprint here,

Conclusion: all existing molecular interpretations of life trees are based on fast evolving genes and are therefore incorrect. We will not have a correct interpretation until we have reanalyzed the data using our slow clock method based on the MGD hypothesis.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Latest fossil evidence in support of our molecular dating of modern human origin

As described by my blog post on May 25, 2010, our molecular results based on the MGD hypothesis suggest that modern humans have been a single species since ~2 million years ago (manuscript in preparation). The multiregional hypothesis is correct and the out of Africa hypothesis is mistaken. This week's report of 400000 year old remains of modern humans fully support our work.

Middle pleistocene dental remains from Qesem Cave (Israel)
1. Israel Hershkovitz1,*, Patricia Smith2, Rachel Sarig1, Rolf
Quam3,4,5, Laura Rodríguez6, Rebeca García6, Juan Luis Arsuaga4,7, Ran Barkai8,
Avi Gopher8,*
Article first published online: 23 DEC 2010
DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21446

See yahoo news report on this find here:

Researchers: Ancient human remains found in Israel

By DANIEL ESTRIN, Associated Press – Mon Dec 27, 6:13 pm ET
Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest evidence yet
for the existence of modern man, and if so, it could upset theories of the
origin of humans.

A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found
in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of
modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, found in Israel. The earliest
Homo sapiens remains found until now are half as old.

"It's very exciting to come to this conclusion," said
archaeologist Avi Gopher, whose team examined the teeth with X-rays and CT scans
and dated them according to the layers of earth where they were found.
He stressed that further research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does,
he says, "this changes the whole picture of evolution."

The accepted scientific theory is that Homo sapiens originated in Africa and
migrated out of the continent. Gopher said if the remains are definitively
linked to modern human's ancestors, it could mean that modern man in fact
originated in what is now Israel.

Sir Paul Mellars, a prehistory expert at Cambridge University, said the study is
reputable, and the find is "important" because remains from that critical time
period are scarce, but it is premature to say the remains are human.
"Based on the evidence they've cited, it's a very tenuous and frankly rather
remote possibility," Mellars said. He said the remains are more likely related
to modern man's ancient relatives, the Neanderthals.

According to today's accepted scientific theories, modern humans and
Neanderthals stemmed from a common ancestor who lived in Africa about 700,000
years ago. One group of descendants migrated to Europe and developed into
Neanderthals, later becoming extinct. Another group stayed in Africa and evolved
into Homo sapiens — modern humans.

Teeth are often unreliable indicators of origin, and analyses of skull remains
would more definitively identify the species found in the Israeli cave, Mellars

Gopher, the Israeli archaeologist, said he is confident his team will find
skulls and bones as they continue their dig.

The prehistoric Qesem cave was discovered in 2000, and excavations began in
2004. Researchers Gopher, Ran Barkai and Israel Hershkowitz published their
study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.