This hat tip goes out to Razib, who just broke the news of a soon to come out publication which analyzes human fossil teeth. The findings suggest that ‘Asian populations played a larger role than Africans in colonizing Europe millions of years ago’… so we’re still on a multiregional hypothesis kick as far as human evolution goes, and this one seems to be pretty bold.
Why did they study teeth? Because the,
“tooth fossil record of modern man’s ancestors [has a] high component of genetic expression. (Huh? What does that really mean?)
The investigators examined the shapes of more than 5,000 teeth from human ancestors from Africa, Asia and Europe dating back millions of years.
They found that European teeth had more Asian features than African ones.
They also noted that the continuity of the Eurasian dental pattern from the Early Pleistocene until the appearance of Upper Pleistocene Neanderthals suggests that the evolutionary courses of the Eurasian and African continents were relatively independent for a long period.
“The history of human populations in Eurasia may not have been the result of a few high-impact replacement waves of dispersals from Africa, but a much more complex puzzle of dispersals and contacts among populations within and outside continents,” the researchers wrote, as reported by AFP.
“In the light of these results, we propose that Asia has played an important role in the colonization of Europe, and that future studies on this issue are obliged to pay serious attention to the ‘unknown’ continent.”
The paper will be published in PNAS. I’ll do my best to keep my eyes out, it seems like it will be an interesting read.