The Morphological and Behavioural Origins of Modern Humans

Chris Stringer

in The Speciation of Modern Homo Sapiens

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263112
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734885 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Morphological and Behavioural Origins of Modern Humans

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This chapter provides an update on the speciation of modern Homo sapiens and the Out of Africa hypothesis. The majority of the fossil and genetic evidence favours an African origin for modern humans during the later part of the Middle Pleistocene (prior to 130,000 years ago), and one or more range expansions out of Africa after that date. However, a number of uncertainties remain. If there was a speciation event at the appearance of modern humans, what was its nature? Furthermore, did the evolution of modern human behaviour occur gradually or punctuationally? The discussion examines the difficulties faced in defining what is meant by ‘modern’ humans, and in reconstructing the morphological and behavioural origins of our species.

Keywords: speciation; Homo sapiens; Out of Africa; modern human; Middle Pleistocene

Chapter.  3371 words. 

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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