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The Out of Africa Theory Versus the Vedic View

 By Sri Nandanandana dasa (Stephen Knapp)

            Many geneticists view that modern man developed and came out of Africa where they migrated across lands to settle in ancient India. From there they spread out in all directions, even into Europe. This is called the “Out of Africa” theory. This certainly helps contradict the Aryan Invasion Theory, which proposes that the Vedic Aryans were not indigenous to the region of India, but came from the Caucasus Mountains, bringing their culture into India. However, over the past several years, an increasing number of finds have been made that suggest modern humans also lived in other regions besides Africa, and at older dates. This is giving rise to the “Multi-Regional Theory,” putting into question the “Out of Africa” theory. This also gives rise to the “Simultaneous Multi-Species” view, in which different species of human-like beings existed at the same times. These two later theories seem to be much closer to the Vedic version as well. So let us take a closer look at this.

THE GENERAL PREMISE ON HUMANITY’S

EVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT

            Modern views of evolution place the first appearance of apelike beings on the planet during the Oligocene period, from about 38 million years ago. The first apes considered to be in line with humans are said to have appeared in the Miocene period, which is about 5 to 25 million years ago. The first hominids or erect walking humanlike primates appeared in the Pliocene period, which is said to have started about 5 million years ago. The earliest hominid is the Australopithecus, the southern ape, which dates back about 4 million years ago. This near human is said to have stood about 4 to 5 feet tall with a cranial brain capacity of 300 to 600 cubic centimeters. The head appeared somewhat ape-like, while from the neck down appeared more human-like. Once this brain capacity enlarged, it is said to have developed the branch known as the Homo habilis around 2 million years ago. This gave rise to the Homo erectus around 1.5 million years ago, and stood 5 to 6 feet tall with a cranial capacity of 700 to 1300 cubic centimeters, appearing more like modern humans, but the forehead slanted back behind massive eye brow ridges, with large jaws and teeth, and no chin. It is this Homo erectus which is said to have lived in Africa, Asia, and then Europe until about 200,000 years ago (some say 500,000 years ago). It is from this Homo erectus that modern humans, or Homo sapiens sapiens emerged gradually, first appearing around 300,000 to 400,000 years ago. These early Homo sapiens sapiens still had lesser degree of receding forehead from large brow ridges. Examples of this have been found in Swanscombe in England, Steinheim in Germany, and Fontechevade and Arago in France. These are classified as pre-Neanderthals.

            It is these classic Western European Neanderthals from the last glacial period which are considered the direct ancestors of modern humans. The faces and jaws were much larger, with low foreheads, and large eyebrow ridges. Remains of Neanderthals have been found in Pleistocene deposits from 30,000 to 150,000 years ago. However, finding remains of early Homo sapiens in deposits far older than 150,000 years effectively removed the Western Neanderthals from the direct line of descent leading from Homo erectus to modern humans.

            The Cro-Magnon appeared in Europe around 30,000 years ago, and look anatomically modern. Scientists used to say that modern humans appeared first around 40,000 years ago, but many have changed that view after the findings in South Africa and other places to 100,000 years or more. Thus, again the views are always changing based on new discoveries of fossils. 1 

            Only gradually, based on increasing evidence, did a consensus grow in the scientific community to accept that possibly modern human beings had existed as far back as the Pliocene and Miocene periods (5 to 25 million years ago), or even earlier. Anthropologist Frank Spencer admitted in 1984: “From accumulating skeletal evidence it appeared as if the modern human skeleton extended far back in time, an apparent fact which led many workers to either abandon or modify their views on human evolution.” 2

THE OUT OF AFRICA THEORY

            Most scientists today think that modern human beings, Homo sapiens sapiens, appeared first on earth in Africa between 200,000 and 500,000 years ago. They first became fully developed in Africa, and then about 80,000 to 125,000 years ago began to expand and migrate out of the continent to the northeast and into the Middle East and to India. As they grew, they out-competed and replaced all other species of humans, such as the Homo erectus, Neanderthal, and archaic humans with no or very little interbreeding.

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