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The multi-regional hypothesis argues that our early hominid ancestors, including Homo ergaster and Homo heidelbergensis, migrated out of Africa and thus the evolution of modern humans took place in different parts of the world – a process termed regional continuity (Pettitt, P 2009a: 125-173) . This theory places great emphasis on the notion of steady evolutionary alterations or changes that happen in different regions and produce diverse variations of the species. Evolution of this kind is kept at a regular rate due to an amalgamation of cultural progress and ‘gene flow’ or interbreeding, thus keeping all lineages evolving at the same time (EP 2006a:70). This process is characterized as parallel evolution, which suggests a subtle morphological resemblance between populations of species who are geographically separated (EBO 2011).
This idea was first postulated in 1940 by Franz Weidenreich (1873-1948), who noticed considerable similarities between the archaic Peking man fossils and modern humans from China. However, Weidenreich did not refer to his evolutionary hypothesis as the ‘multi-regional model’ - instead, he used the term ‘Polycentric’ (Wikipedia 2011).
Milford Wolpoff, American Paleoanthropologist and advocate of the multi-regional hypothesis, developed Weidenriech’s theory along with Alan Thorne, allegorically suggesting that gene flow can be likened to that of individuals swimming in a pool – although they maintain their individuality, they are often influenced by the spreading ripples made by the activity of other people in the water. This, they suggest, is the ‘equivalent of genes flowing between populations’ (Wolpoff, M and Thorne, A 1992).
This theory is now highly discredited by many scholars due to the lack of supporting evidence. It was once thought that the fossil records from Australia and Asia could be understood as showing evidence for such…...