Darwin's Predictions

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Modern humans arose in Africa.

In Darwin's day, virtually no fossils of early humans were known—one of the few was Neanderthal Man, discovered in Germany's Neander Valley in 1856—nor could anyone date them reliably. But noticing our close anatomical relationship to chimps and gorillas, Darwin surmised that Homo sapiens had evolved in Africa. In his customary careful way, he wrote, "It is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere." Today, the fossil known as Lucy is only the most famous of numerous fossils of human and human-like species whose age and other particulars confirm the notion that modern humans first came into existence in Africa. Here, a 1999 evolutionary tree based on DNA shows how the five great apes, including us, arose from a common ancestor. Branch length indicates how far the genes of each population have diverged from those of near relatives.

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