Are all humans South Africans?

Africa was the birth-place of Homo sapiens and has the earliest evidence for symbolic behaviour and complex technologies. The best-attested early flowering of these distinctive features was in a glacial refuge zone on the southern coast 100–70 ka, with fewer indications in eastern Africa until after 70 ka. Yet it was eastern Africa, not the south, that witnessed the first major demographic expansion, ~70–60 ka, which led to the peopling of the rest of the world. One possible explanation is that important cultural traits were transmitted from south to east at this time. Here we identify a mitochondrial signal of such a dispersal soon after ~70 ka – the only time in the last 200,000 years that humid climate conditions encompassed southern and tropical Africa. This dispersal immediately preceded the out-of-Africa expansions, potentially providing the trigger for these expansions by transmitting significant cultural elements from the southern African refuge.

That is from Teresa Rito,, in Nature, vis Charles Klingman.


"Are all humans South Africans?"

No. All humans are humans. And the best decision early humans ever made was migration, and specifically leaving Africa. That decision to 'diversify our portfolio' is the dividend that keeps paying out so to speak.

As evidence for the excellence of that decision - and interestingly happening around the same time period - is the understanding that theoretically most humans on earth are descended from an extremely small population of survivors of an ancient catastrophe (most likely the supervolcanic eruption of Toba).

Leaving decision ever.

"That decision to 'diversify our portfolio' is the dividend that keeps paying out so to speak."

This is why we need to get human settlements on the moon and other planets as soon as possible.

I do think this is the most convincing argument for human space exploration. The economics will likely never justify colonization of other planets, but survival of the species will.

@Thelonius_Nick, @Hadur

It most absolutely is. And yes, the economics will never justify it, anymore than the University of Salamanca thought that it justified Columbus's journey across the Atlantic.

I am less worried about a meteorite than I am about the Yellowstone Caldera, and eruption of which would - quite frankly conservatively - end the USA as we know it (if it still exists) and change conditions for this hemisphere drastically.

"...but survival of the species will." Then there's people in our own time thinking this is not if it weren't difficult enough. Sigh....

U Salamanca was entirely rational to think so. Columbus was an excellent skipper and a world class dunderhead as a geographer.

I love science fiction and space exploration but the "can't have all the eggs in one basket" argument is such trash. Why is it more important to "save the species" by giving us an insurance policy against Earth becoming uninhabitable instead of helping the actual existing humans right here on Earth today?

Moral dimension aside it's stupidly impractical. Establishing and sustaining a Mars colony would take a significant fraction of global GDP and it'd still be so much more difficult to survive on than earth in almost any "doomsday" scenario. The Yellowstone caldera scenario is particularly laughable. Unless you're literally standing in NW Wyoming when the super volcano goes off, anywhere on Earth will remain infinitely more habitable than Mars or anywhere else in the universe. Dump a bunch of ash over the continental US and dim the sun for a few years, at least there's actually oxygen in the air! And tolerable temperatures and pressure, despite any climate change. Not to mention a limitless supply of water and biomass. Solar insolation at Mars is ~1/2 of earth. Nuclear war, asteroid strike, all the same story.

Go to space for science or fun or maybe to make money. Saying we have to colonize Mars or whereever to preserve the species is like telling a single person with no kids to spend all their money on a massive life insurance policy instead of getting an education. Fix the fucking climate, find and deflect asteroids, invest in economic growth and we'll probably even figure out what to do with super volcanoes. Hey and maybe colonizing space is the best way to drive expontential economic growth that will help us preserve the earth over the long term. But that the idea the E
Earth is going to be less habitable than somewhere else anytime in the next 10k years is a joke.

This is silly. Clearly it’s possible to both take precautions against the Yellowstone Caldera (or any other well-understood risk) and still colonize space.

Colonizing space, however, provides us with protection against risks we can’t anticipate, as well as room for economic growth. Even thinking small, it’s not like bad weather is the worst risk we could imagine for earth that would be potentially containable to one planet. War, tyranny, and contagion come to mind as things a large space presence would be a real help with.

I don’t think risk abatement is the best argument for moving into space. Long term growth is the best argument. But the risk argument is still a good one.

"... we'll probably even figure out what to do with super volcanoes. "

I'm pretty sure that confronted with something like the Siberian Traps, we'll figure out the best course of action is to make like brave Sir Robin.

Risk abatement for life itself is a good enough argument. Even if we can't get humans off the planet, it's worth while to get some sort of earth-DNA based lifeforms off the planet, so they can someday evolve into something else that can survive elsewhere. We're doing it on behalf of all life, not just on behalf of the human species.

Lol this is what a 110 IQ person cooks up when they are unmoored by secularism and can’t imbue life with any fuctional dignity. In short this your mind on Heinlein.

Life finds a way always. It needs no help from us. Humans might cease to exist but life won’t. You honestly have more sympathy for some yet unknown primordial gloop than you do Americans in Appalachia. And what’s worse you aren’t smart enough to know that’s a terrible thing to advertise.

As far as I can tell there is no life on any of the other planets in our solar system. Yet.

Perhaps our colonization of space IS "life finding a way".

But this response only makes sense if the question is whether humans should ever colonize space. It would cost a significant fraction of GDP to support a Mars colony today with no future in sight where that colony can survive an asteroid hit on earth. Much more cost effective spending money to preserve the environment on earth today. If costs of space travel come down far enough, maybe that eventually makes sense. Just not right now.

The only reason space travel has been expensive heretofore is that it's been run as a government program with the objective of maximizing costs. It's energetically similar to long-distance air travel. Rockets are simpler devices than jet airplanes, not more complicated.

Prices are presently collapsing in the launch industry as this becomes obvious and more competitors successfully enter. So I think now is a reasonable time to embark.

Beyond that, there's no sense in which this spending is competitive with environmental spending, not least because it's mostly private. I don't know why this comes up with space development. Nobody says we shouldn't spend money on education so we can spend it on recycling. I suspect the real worry some people have about space is that we might succeed.

I would be inclined to believe that a self-sustaining Mars colony were feasible if we could first perfect technology to the point that an underwater, Earthbound colony were fully sustainable. Surely that has got to be an easier hurdle? And perfecting that technology would have many spillover benefits (think of freeing coastal land for residences and putting factories underwater) even if Mars colonization proved to be unprofitable or infeasible in the medium run.

I guess there are some things that are harder about working underwater than working on Mars - high pressure is much worse than vacuum from an engineering perspective; there's no light, so farming is difficult; corrosion is a real problem; power is more difficult to come by. And the motivation is also much less obvious as the ocean depths are moderately easy to reach without living there. And yet, we've pretty much developed the technology to live in the depths for long periods - missile subs show feasibility if nothing else. We also do resource extraction at depth on a large scale. I do agree that it’s not yet obvious that we could live in splendor at depth, but I think it’s pretty clear that living in splendor at depth is a lot harder than living in splendor on Mars would be, and is also a lot less useful.

And again, it’s not an either or. We pretty much already live and work in the ocean at a large scale relative to proposed efforts in space. It’s much less appealing and useful, and yet we do it at scale. There’s no obvious reason to wait for something further here before going further there.

That's the basic premise in God Emperor of Dune, although concerned about dictatorial rule as well as survival.

Can we all get into university as African-Americans now?

I've always been fond of the idea that were are all from Africa. Very universalist.

Reunions are going to be crazy though.

"in a glacial refuge zone": where were the glaciers that they were hiding from? The Drakensbergs? Kilimanjaro?

No comments about IQ? I suppose those who chose to leave Africa were smarter and those who stayed behind were, well, less smart. Or something. Maybe climate: those living in a cold climate have to innovate to survive, while those in a warm climate can just eat the berries on the bush. It's the climate, stupid! Out of Africa I can think of a few places with a warm climate and not very smart people.

Says the fella from Florida.

Actually, I was implicating the entire South (among other places). Florida, not so much because hardly anybody who resides there is from there, having migrated to Florida from the cold climates of their ancestors in Canada, the mid-west, and the northeast. But I have often wondered if these migrants from cold climates were stupid when they arrived or became stupid after a few hot summers in Florida.

What a fascinating mix of Darwin and Wallace...

But to get to the cold climate they had to go through the part with the hotter climate!
Also, that should make Eskimos the smartest people on earth.

Arguably, the people from both hot and cold climates must be demonstrably dumber because they obviously lost wars against the people from the temperate climates and got driven into less hospitable regions. If they we so smart they would have taken back the warm fertile areas by force.

Eskimos DO have the largest brains. Cold weather makes it easier to dissipate heat, so the brain can grow larger.

As to your second point, reread the ending of Herodotus’ Histories and you’ll see why Cyrus chose to keep the Persians in their rough homeland instead of moving to more fertile regions.

Yes, along the Mediterranean, where the Greek and Roman civilization once prevailed and where Christianity began. I suppose it was convenient in the sense that heaters weren't often a necessity. What drove civilization north, and once north, what inspired innovation and progress that those further south and in hotter climates seemed to lag behind? I know some very smart people whose ancestors spent generations in south Africa, but their ancestors came to south Africa from Europe and the cold climate.

"the only time in the last 200,000 years that humid climate conditions encompassed southern and tropical Africa"

What is the significance of humid climate conditions in southern and tropical Africa?

The idea is that both southern and tropical Africa had similar climates. That allows for a greater exchange of people and ideas between the two regions, because they are both like home.

Well done: it's a pity they couldn't have expressed their point in such clear English.

I just read something asserting that Americans typically heat and cool their homes in a manner that ends up unconsciously replicating the climate of Kenya, around the Rift valley.

Even the Somalis of Minnesota?

We all descended from Dutch settlers?

The article excerpted was not published the journal Nature, bur rather in the journal Scientific Reports, which is published by the Nature Publishing Group and which hosts articles using a url.

Re: article

1) There are probably some reasons why evidence has a bias to being discovered on the South African coast, where European populations are concentrated on the coast, rather than East Africa, which adds some doubt to ideas of particular longstanding evidence of "AMH behaviour" (really, "some post 70kya AMH behaviour") in S Africa.

2) Huge population replacements within Africa as a whole within really even the last 10kya, make it difficult to draw conclusions - - "We assembled genome-wide data from 16 prehistoric Africans. We show that the anciently divergent lineage that comprises the primary ancestry of the southern African San had a wider distribution in the past, contributing approximately two-thirds of the ancestry of Malawi hunter-gatherers ∼8,100–2,500 years ago and approximately one-third of the ancestry of Tanzanian hunter-gatherers ∼1,400 years ago. We document how the spread of farmers from western Africa involved complete replacement of local hunter-gatherers in some regions, and we track the spread of herders by showing that the population of a ∼3,100-year-old pastoralist from Tanzania contributed ancestry to people from northeastern to southern Africa, including a ∼1,200-year-old southern African pastoralist. The deepest diversifications of African lineages were complex, involving either repeated gene flow among geographically disparate groups or a lineage more deeply diverging than that of the San contributing more to some western African populations than to others."

The people who are today the ancestors of the Southern African groups that they believe there was a pre-70kya mtdna pulse from may well not have been living in S Africa at this time, and the ancestors of the East Africa groups that received such a pulse almost certainly weren't (through intra-Africa + Eurasia->Africa migrations).

Nice troll headline also TC ;)

I don't now; but they seem to like apartheid in SA.

So, no humans survived the ice age except those in SA?

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