Human Migrations

Did you know the eruption of Mt. Toba, in about 74,000 BCE, caused a 6 year winter and 1000 year ice age, reducing the human population to about 10,000 adults? Check it out in the above interactive map.

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This video of the history of world population (since CE 1) is provided by the website "World Population History." Check out the site for more analysis.

Recent discoveries in the analysis of ancient DNA have yielded surprising conclusions about how we all got where we are and about who has the best claim on being a native in the region they currently occupy. The above link gives the classic theory, as of about ten years ago.

At that time the state of scholarship on Paleolamericans, the first human immigrants to this continent, was summarized by James Q. Jacobs, Anthropologist/Archeologist, Academic Instructor.

New studies last year at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, analyzed the DNA of the Kennewick man whose well preserved skeleton was discovered in Washington State,  and of some human DNA from Siberia, bring a new dimension of dynamism to theories of human migration. Read about this work at the The Wall Street Journal, and in the journal Nature. Another take on this new information is presented by The Guardian.

Several studies on European and New World migration have newly documented more massive, more recent migrations than had been previously suspected. BBC news recently discussed the link between migration and language development about 4,500 years ago. They had previously discussed some of the puzzles solved by the recent dicoveries. Further information on the so-called "Kostenki" man can be found at the University of Cambridge. And yet another discussion of human migrations was published in The New York Times.

Here is a recent summary of the antiquity of humans in South America.

Monte Verde Chile 
 The Monte Verde archaeological site in Chile has long been the laboratory of Dr. Tom Dillehay. Tom earned his Ph.D. at UT, but is currently at Vanderbilt. He has been touching off debates about the arrival of humans in the new world for decades. He has just touched off a new one. Humans may have reached Chile by 18,500 years ago, an astoundingly early migration given that the land bridge from Siberia south into the Americas had only recently thawed enough to allow southward migration. If you have a subscription to Science Magazine, you can read the full article.

Here, you will find an interactive map showing the relationship between populations, historical events, and the resulting admixture of groups over the last 4000 years.

The DNA Learning Center presents Douglas Wallace providing a short (minute and a half) description of migration into the Americas.

If you're interested in a more technical discussion of the subject (prior to the latest findings), here is a paper PLOS Genetics.

The West Eurasian origins of American Indians has been known for a few years. Here is a National Geographic article on the subject.

Ancient DNA has also revealed existence of a hitherto unknown group of people called by researchers, the Denisovans. Scientific American wrote about them a few years ago and their relationship to modern humans and Neandertals.

Ancient DNA is also revealing trade routes and commodities previously unsuspected. For example, there is evidence wheat grain was imported from Europe into ancient Britain long before the advent of farming on the islands.

All of this research is bringing clearer explanations about how the transition from hunter/gatherer  to agrarian societies came about.

Ancient DNA has revealed a return migration back into Africa, previously unsuspected.

Science 2.0 has published an article showing the relationship between new migration research and archeological research.

A link has recently been established between current Native Americans and the earliest known migrations into America.

Finally, a summary of news in ancient DNA research is presented in Science Daily.