Interbreeding with Archaic Humans in Africa
Early research on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) had a decisive role in the long-standing paleontological debate over human origins by providing a relatively simple picture of human evolutionary history: the set of traits that define our species as "anatomically modern" originated in a small, isolated population in Africa during the Late Pleistocene. This population then completely replaced archaic forms of humans as it expanded its size and range throughout Africa and the Old World. Today there is an abundance of DNA sequence data from the entire genome of contemporary human populations, as well as from ancient DNA recovered from extinct forms of humans. Analyses of these data, with increasingly sophisticated computational tools, are yielding new insights into human evolutionary history. The story of our origins may not be as simple as once imagined.