NEWS

‘We are not descended from the Neanderthals’

What was the subject of your research? The prevailing theory on the origins of modern man maintains that he came from Africa and settled in the rest of the world 40,000 to 30,000 years ago. This theory is supported by numerous studies: Morphological studies such as my former study on the Neanderthals (2004) and my recent work on the hybrid Neanderthal-Homo sapiens from Romania, genetic analyses of modern people and DNA analyses of Neanderthal fossils. We have no fossils of this period (40,000-30,000 years ago) from the African continent to prove that the first people to settle in Europe and the rest of the World originated in Africa. Then the famous Hofmeyr skull was discovered… Exactly. It was found in the early 1950s but the data then made it very difficult to date. No fauna or stone implements were found near the skull to help the researchers. Carbon-14 had just started being used and was not effective. Not even our research produced results. How was it dated then? We measured the radioactivity accumulated in sand grains found inside the skull and then calculated the time of burial which would have probably been close to the time of death. I say «probably» because if he had not been buried quickly the skull would have been largely destroyed. What are the conclusions drawn from the dating of the skull? My study revealed that the Hofmeyr skull is closely linked to European skulls of the same period and not modern Africans. Thus we were able to show that modern man came from Africa, confirming the existing theory. This means that Europeans have not evolved from Neanderthals and that current geographical differences among populations are very recent, as 30,000 years is a very small period in evolutionary terms.