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Routes of human migration

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Human evolution and the origins of human diversity: key points

  • Humans shared a last common ancestor with the chimpanzee and the bonobo about 5-6 million years ago.
  • The hominin clade has included many species, some of which will have coexisted. Few are in direct ancestral relationship to Homo sapiens.
  • Humans are distinguished from the other great apes by specific physical (bipedalism, brain size, hairlessness) and cultural (tool making, language, society) traits.
  • Modern humans evolved in Africa and spread across the world, adapting locally to the selective pressures of the climates, food sources and pathogens that they encountered.
  • Human diversity is best explained by continuous rather than discontinuous variation.


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