Genetic Mutation Explains Human Migration
Homo sapiens appeared 180,000 years ago, but for the next hundred thousand years stuck to a comparatively small area centered around a number of central African lakes. After this time, though, the species moved out from central Africa and across the continent in what has been called the great expansion – ultimately ending up in your living room.
The reason, say Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers, is the appearance more than 85,000 years ago of a genetic variant in a key gene cluster on chromosome 11, known as the fatty acid desaturase cluster. This variation would for the first time have allowed early humans to tuck into their veg with some purpose, by converting plant-based polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) to brain PUFAs – necessary for increased brain size, complexity and function.