Repository logo

Deciphering African late middle Pleistocene hominin diversity and the origin of our species

Published version

Change log


Mirazón Lahr, Marta  ORCID logo


Abstract: The origin of Homo sapiens remains a matter of debate. The extent and geographic patterning of morphological diversity among Late Middle Pleistocene (LMP) African hominins is largely unknown, thus precluding the definition of boundaries of variability in early H. sapiens and the interpretation of individual fossils. Here we use a phylogenetic modelling method to predict possible morphologies of a last common ancestor of all modern humans, which we compare to LMP African fossils (KNM-ES 11693, Florisbad, Irhoud 1, Omo II, and LH18). Our results support a complex process for the evolution of H. sapiens, with the recognition of different, geographically localised, populations and lineages in Africa – not all of which contributed to our species’ origin. Based on the available fossils, H. sapiens appears to have originated from the coalescence of South and, possibly, East-African source populations, while North-African fossils may represent a population which introgressed into Neandertals during the LMP.



Article, /631/181/414, /631/181/19/2471, /631/181/757, article

Journal Title

Nature Communications

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Nature Publishing Group UK