Adam was an Aussie not an African, Australian researchers say
SYDNEY, 9 January 2001 (AFP) -
Adam and Eve were Australians, not Africans as most experts on human evolution now believe, according to recently completed Australian research.
The research, soon to be published by an American scientific journal, presents a new genetic tree showing anatomically modern humanity emerged from a common ancestor who lived in Australia 60,000 years ago.
A team led by anthropologist Alan Thorne of Canberra's Australian National University, also shows Australia was once home to a group of Aboriginal people whose genetic line has vanished from the planet.
The discoveries are based on new analysis of the oldest DNA recovered from human remains; genetic material from a 60,000-year-old skeleton found near Lake Mungo in the eastern Australian state of New South Wales in 1974.
Mungo Man, as he has been dubbed, is creating a stir in the scientific community by casting serious doubt on the Out of Africa model of human evolution which has been backed by most international experts.
It holds that all living people are descended from a group of homo sapiens that left Africa around 100,000 to 150,000 years ago.
DNA from a Croatian Neanderthal who lived about 28,000 years ago was previously the oldest.
Thorne said most primitive forms of DNA known in living humans until now had been found in sub-Saharan Africa, leading to the theory that mankind originated in Africa and left it as modern Homo Sapiens before spreading around the world.
"And so what we have now found is a lineage that is older than any of those," Thorne told ABC radio.
"It's earlier than the putative most recent common ancestor, the so-called Eve point in mitochondrial evolution.
"So under a strict out of Africa hypothesise I have to say well they were wrong, obviously Eve was an Australian."
Thorne also believes modern Aboriginal Australians descended from two groups of distinctly different people.
"What I have always argued is that there is a distinct difference anatomically between these two groups of people," he said.
He believes one group entered Australia about 40,000 years before the others, a new group of "robust" people, who became visible in Australia about 20,000 years ago and appear to have arrived with edge-ground tools.
"I suspect that these new robust people enter Australia with a new tool kit and then mix together with other people who are already here to produce the extraordinary mix of people that we now call Aboriginal Australians," he said.
9 January 2001: BBC reports on the same story
21 May 1999: Newspaper report on the dating of Mungo Man
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