Human evolution

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Human evolution, or anthropogeny,[1] is the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens as a distinct species from other hominids, great apes and placental mammals. The study of human evolution uses many scientific disciplines, including physical anthropology, primatology, archaeology, linguistics and genetics.[2]

The term "human" in the context of human evolution refers to the genus Homo, but studies of human evolution usually include other hominids, such as the Australopithecines, from which the genus Homo had diverged by about 2.3 to 2.4 million years ago in Africa.[3][4] Scientists have estimated that humans branched off from their common ancestor with chimpanzees about 5–7 million years ago. Several species and subspecies of Homo evolved and are now extinct. These include Homo erectus, which inhabited Asia, and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, which inhabited Europe. Archaic Homo sapiens evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago.

The dominant view among scientists concerning the origin of anatomically modern humans is the "Out of Africa" or recent African origin hypothesis,[5][6][7][8] which argues that Homo sapiens arose in Africa and migrated out of the continent around 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, replacing populations of Homo erectus in Asia and Homo neanderthalensis in Europe. Scientists supporting the alternative multiregional hypothesis argue that Homo sapiens evolved as geographically separate but interbreeding populations stemming from a worldwide migration of Homo erectus out of Africa nearly 2.5 million years ago. This theory has been contradicted by recent evidence, although it has been suggested that non Homo sapiens Neanderthal genomes may have contributed about 4% of non African heredity, and the recently discovered Denisova hominin may have contributed 6% of the genome of Melanesians[9][10].

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