January 11, 2006
Written by C.N.
As reported in National Geographic, based on evidence from two European archaeologists, there is increasing speculation that the human species may have originated not in Africa — as the scientific consensus has accepted — but in Asia:
Robin Dennell, of the University of Sheffield in England, and Wil Roebroeks, of Leiden University in the Netherlands, describe their ideas in the December 22 issue of Nature. They believe that early-human fossil discoveries over the past ten years suggest very different conclusions about where humans, or humanlike beings, first walked the Earth.
New Asian finds are significant, they say, especially the 1.75 million-year-old small-brained early-human fossils found in Dmanisi, Georgia, and the 18,000-year-old “hobbit” fossils (Homo floresiensis) discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Such finds suggest that Asia’s earliest human ancestors may be older by hundreds of thousands of years than previously believed, the scientists say.
Dennell and Roebroeks get support for their proposal from other experts. “I think this is an interesting and constructively provocative paper,” said Chris Stringer, a researcher in the department of palaeontology at London’s Natural History Museum.
“Evidence of humans in the Caucasus [region of Asia], China, and Java more than 1.6 million years ago implies either a very rapid spread from Africa after about 1.8 millions years ago, or that such populations were established outside Africa earlier than present evidence suggests,” he said. “I certainly think we should keep an open mind about the big picture.”
Clearly, there needs to be a lot more research in order to positively substantiate this new theory. But the evidence seems to be compelling. Ultimately, if this new theory about humans originating in Asia gains momentum and widespread acceptance, I hope that it doesn’t lead to a cultural backlash of Blacks against Asians, presuming that some Blacks may feel slighted that their ancestral land is no longer considered to be the birthplace of humanity.
This “backlash scenario” is all speculation of course. But above all else, this theory will hopefully only reinforce the obvious but often overlooked fact that we are all part of the human race — there may be cultural and ethnic differences, but we all originated from one original place. Whether that was Africa or Asia, it almost doesn’t really matter in my mind.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Humans Originated in Asia?" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/01/humans-originated-in-asia/> ().
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