Scientific article
Open access

Genetics and history of Sub-Saharan Africa

Published inYearbook of physical anthropology, vol. 30, p. 151-194
Publication date1987

This paper aims to review the contribution of genetic data to the prehistory and history of sub·Saharan African peoples. The authors review briefly paleontologic data, which give limited information about modern Homo sapiens sapiens origins and isolation of present African gene pools. Most linguistic and archaeological theories about African peoples'prehistory are then confronted with the most informative genetic data available. Rhesus, Gm, HLA, and DNA data are analyzed. Their frequent haplotypes are compared between populations by means of genetic distances and average linkage clustering. Despite heterogeneities between the quality and the quantity of data provided by different genetic systems, some clear conclusions can be drawn. Genetic differentiation clearly paranels the clustering of major linguistic families. These families of populations seem genetically homogeneous, suggesting either relatively recent origins or long-term important and continuous intragroup migrations. The well-known divergence between the historical theories suggested by immunological and DNA data about the relationship between Africa and other gene pools is discussed. Decisive conclusions about African origins of modern humans either from fossil or from DNA data seem very premature. An alternative hypothesis issued from overall genetic variation is proposed.

  • Afrique
  • Peuplement
  • Génétique humaine
  • Linguistique
Citation (ISO format)
EXCOFFIER, Laurent Georges Louis et al. Genetics and history of Sub-Saharan Africa. In: Yearbook of physical anthropology, 1987, vol. 30, p. 151–194.
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Article (Published version)
  • PID : unige:14816
ISSN of the journal0096-848X

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