Friday, July 31, 2009

Human Population Surge Preceded Agriculture

New genetic evidence shows that human populations in sub-Sahara Africa began to expand in size 40,000 years ago, well before the development of agriculture. This supports the hypothesis that population growth played a significant role in the evolution of human cultures in the Late Pleistocene.

There has been long-standing disagreement in archaeological circles whether humans increased in number as a result of innovative technologies formulated by hunter-gatherer groups in the Late Pleistocene, or with the advent of agriculture in the Neolithic.

Researchers recently surveyed the genetic material of about 200 individuals from seven human populations and used a computational approach to simulate the evolution of genetic lineages. They found that both hunter-gathers and food-producing groups best fit models with approximately ten-fold population growth beginning well before the origin of agriculture.

Click here for the complete ScienceDaily article.

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