The publication of a haplotype tree of human mitochondrial DNA variation in 1987 provoked a controversy about the details of recent human evolution that continues to this day. Now many haplotype trees are available, and new analytical techniques exist for testing hypotheses about recent evolutionary history using haplotype trees. Here I present formal statistical analysis of human haplotype trees for mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosomal DNA, two X-linked regions and six autosomal regions. A coherent picture of recent human evolution emerges with two major themes. First is the dominant role that Africa has played in shaping the modern human gene pool through at least two - not one - major expansions after the original range extension of Homo erectus out of Africa. Second is the ubiquity of genetic interchange between human populations, both in terms of recurrent gene flow constrained by geographical distance and of major population expansion events resulting in interbreeding, not replacement.
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I thank J. Brisson, J. Hess, R. Koch, M. Kramer, R. Robertson and J. Strasburg for suggestions on an earlier draft of this manuscript. I also thank E. Trinkhaus and J. Relethford for their reviews. This work was supported in part by a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Innovation Award in Functional Genomics.
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