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The last decades of research on human evolution have provided an astounding body of converging evidence for an African origin of the human lineage just under about 200k years ago, with a subsequent migration across the globe starting around 60k years ago until all the main regions of this planet were inhabited by humans at around 15k years ago. Compare this scenario to the creationist story, where humans were shaped by a magic man out of clay about 6k years ago, which means it happened just after the Sumerians have invented glue.

What is the converging evidence telling the "Out of Africa" story?

It all started with fossils and artifacts. Archeology, with its own dating techniques and collection methods, suggested a route that looks something like this:

(Image source)

Later, genetic evidence came along. Geneticists, with their own dating techniques and experimental methods suggested migration routes that looked something like this:

(Image source)

After the genetic evidence, came evidence from a bacterium associated with humans: Helicobacter pylori. It lives in our guts and can cause stomach ulcers. It's been associated with our digestive tract for many thousands of years. Looking at the different strains of these bacteria, microbiologists, using their own dating techniques and experimental protocols, deduced that this bacterium in our guts must have traveled roughly along these routes:

(Image source)

Most recently, linguists came along and studied the phonemes that make up 504 of the different human languages around the globe. These linguists adopted the analysis tools from the geneticists to their own dating techniques and sampling methods and came up with a map that suggested the following main routes along which the human languages seem to have developed:

(Image source)

Clearly, getting the dates correct using phonemes will prove a lot harder than the previously used dating techniques. Nevertheless, these are four independent lines of evidence, collected over many decades by scientists with vastly different backgrounds and training. Yet, the results agree to an astonishing extent.

However, this doesn't mean it's 'true' or 'scientifically proven'. It only means that this is the best humans can currently possibly do and anything new that comes along must not only explain the current congruence of disparate data, but also explain more data, than the current 'Out of Africa' theory can explain. A few self-contradictory passages in an ancient text do not even begin to come close to being a contender.

Given this sort of evidence, it becomes rather obvious that creationists are either uninformed or unpersuadable. For the former, information like the one in this post should be more than sufficient to falsify the creationist dogma. For the latter, ridicule and derision is the best response.

This post was inspired by Lapidarium Notes.

Pertinent peer-reviewed literature:

  • Green, R., Krause, J., Ptak, S., Briggs, A., Ronan, M., Simons, J., Du, L., Egholm, M., Rothberg, J., Paunovic, M., & Pääbo, S. (2006). Analysis of one million base pairs of Neanderthal DNA Nature, 444 (7117), 330-336 DOI: 10.1038/nature05336
  • Linz, B., Balloux, F., Moodley, Y., Manica, A., Liu, H., Roumagnac, P., Falush, D., Stamer, C., Prugnolle, F., van der Merwe, S., Yamaoka, Y., Graham, D., Perez-Trallero, E., Wadstrom, T., Suerbaum, S., & Achtman, M. (2007). An African origin for the intimate association between humans and Helicobacter pylori Nature, 445 (7130), 915-918 DOI: 10.1038/nature05562
  • Atkinson, Q. (2011). Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa Science, 332 (6027), 346-349 DOI: 10.1126/science.1199295
Posted on Tuesday 19 April 2011 - 18:12:30 comment: 0

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