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Top Ten Archaeology News Stories of the Decade


8 of 10

Mitochondrial DNA and Populating the World
Human Migration Patterns

Human Migration Patterns


Over the past decade, mitochondrial DNA studies have been published which robustly support the long-held theory that all of the people in the world are descended from Africans. A study published in 2007 proved that the indigenous peoples of Australia were descended from a founder population of Africans. Since then, broader studies comparing mtDNA from people all over the world, tell the same story: we are all descended from Africans.

Why Nominate Mitochondrial DNA?

For a very long time, arguments about the settlement of the world as a whole have been divided into two major camps—Out of Africa (stating that all modern people were descended from Africans) and the Multi-Regional Hypothesis (modern people were derived from Africans who moved out into the world and bred with the various hominids who already lived there, either Homo erectus and Neanderthals. The mitochondrial DNA studies have shown that the Multiregional Hypothesis is incorrect. Although scholars are still somewhat divided on the pace and pathways of the human migration out of Africa, the evidence seems quite clear.

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