There is general agreement among scientists about a recent (less than 200,000 yrs ago) African origin of anatomically modern humans, whereas there is still uncertainty about whether, and to what extent, they admixed with archaic populations, which thus may have contributed to the modern populations' gene pools. Data on cranial morphology have been interpreted as suggesting that, before the main expansion from Africa through the Near East, anatomically modern humans may also have taken a Southern route from the Horn of Africa through the Arabian peninsula to India, Melanesia and Australia, about 100,000 yrs ago. This view was recently supported by archaeological findings demonstrating human presence in Eastern Arabia >90,000 yrs ago. In this study we analyzed genetic variation at 111,197 nuclear SNPs in nine populations (Kurumba, Chenchu, Kamsali, Madiga, Mala, Irula, Dalit, Chinese, Japanese), chosen because their genealogical relationships are expected to differ under the alternative models of expansion (single vs. multiple dispersals). We calculated correlations between genomic distances, and geographic distances estimated under the alternative assumptions of a single dispersal, or multiple dispersals, and found a significantly stronger association for the multiple dispersal model. If confirmed, this result would cast doubts on the possibility that some non-African populations (i.e., those whose ancestors expanded through the Southern route) may have had any contacts with Neandertals.
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