The Shared African Ancestry of All Humans
Updated on March 8, 2024
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The Shared African Ancestry of All Humans

Extensive evidence supports the theory that modern humans (Homo sapiens) originated in Africa—from genetic, fossil, to archaeological evidence.

Today’s global genetic diversity stems from these African ancestors and their migrations out of the continent.

  • The Evidence – Studies show that the first anatomically modern humans emerged in Africa, and migrations from there spread our species across the globe.
  • Genetic Bottleneck – When populations left Africa, they carried only a subset of the genetic diversity found within Africa itself. This is why people of non-African descent tend to have less overall genetic variation.
  • Neanderthal DNA – Individuals of European or Asian descent often have around 1-4% of their DNA from Neanderthals, who lived outside Africa. Those of primarily African descent have significantly less Neanderthal DNA, highlighting that interbreeding happened after the out-of-Africa migrations.
The Shared African Ancestry of All Humans 2

Nuances and Ongoing Research

While all humans trace their ancestry back to Africa, the exact percentage of African DNA in any individual varies greatly. Factors like later migrations and interbreeding create a complex picture.

Additionally, recent studies suggest multiple origins within Africa itself rather than a single starting point.

Genetic research strongly indicates that Africa is the birthplace of humanity. Though everyone has African ancestors, the percentage of African DNA within a person’s genome depends on their specific lineage and the complex interplay of migrations and interbreeding throughout history.

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Updated on March 8, 2024
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Updated on March 8, 2024
Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad
Content Contributor
Angela is a full-time digital content manager and editor for Know Your DNA. She also contributes freelance articles to several local and international websites when she has the time. She's always been a voracious believer in finding the truth and ensuring the science is sound.