Last week the origins of our species, Homo sapiens, was brought up, and I thought it might be kind of fun to go over the reasons we think that our species originated in Africa. Notice there is no certainty. Up until a few years before I got to college, everyone thought that evolution was a tremendously slow operation that never stopped moving forward. It was only some intensive study on hominids (anyone from the same genus as us) that revealed how a species could metamorphosize in a few generations.
O.K., so there are basically three reasons why we think our species started in Africa. The first and most obvious is archeology. The earliest Homo sapiens remains we have ever found were in Africa. That sounds good, and it might be leading us in the right direction. Then again, dumb luck might be involved in that. It is possible there are lots of older fossils all over the world. Or maybe conditions were right for preservation there but not anywhere else.
Second reason, anthropology. There are more variations of Homo in Africa than anywhere else in the world, and no examples of species that can be found elsewhere but not in Africa. That’s a pretty strong argument for African origins. That, and we can trace every human culture as it came out of Africa through the Middle East and into Europe, Asia, Polynesia, and the Americas.
Third reason genetics. I just finished reading a book by Bryan Sykes. It is a decade old, and there are aspects of it that are outdated, but there is one salient and undeniable fact that remains; there are more genetic variations in Africa than in the rest of the world combined. Like with anthropology, that is a strong argument that Homo sapiens started in Africa.
Another Language Spread Theory
Directed Language, trying to say something more complicated than “You suck!” or “I’m scared!” is not nearly as old. I’ve always believed that most of the surviving languages came from central Asia. I know there were other languages at one point, but waves of tribes came out of that area to overrun China and Europe in the historical period, and most likely those areas, the Middle East, and India in the prehistoric period. As with all conquerors, they forced their own language onto the conquered. The only languages I can see not coming from central Asia are the Basque, Elamite, Sumerian, and subSaharan language families.