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An African Structured Metapopulation Model for Human Origins

Eleanor Scerri | Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena

Abstract: Models of human origins in Africa have traditionally been represented by trees, in which branches represent homogenous units, often interpreted as a single, small source population in one region of the continent. However, ever richer palaeanthropological, genomic and palaeoecological data indicates that the whole of Africa should be considered if we are to understand human origins in a more realistic framework. The African structured metapopulation model (SAM) transcends traditional tree-like models and uniquely captures dynamic connections and disconnections between geographically subdivided populations as a consequence of climate changes across the continent. The insights gained from a SAM model highlight key future directions, including requirements to understand opportunities for population contact and separation, and data from underrepresented regions of Africa.

Eleanor Scerri received her PhD in Archaeological Science in 2013 from the University of Southampton. She subsequently worked at the Universities of
Bordeaux with a Fyssen Fellowship, and the University of Oxford with a British
Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, before receiving a Marie Skłodowska Curie
Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. In
2019, she was awarded a Lise Meitner Research Group - the Pan African
Evolution Research Group - with a W2 Professorship at the same institution.