What are we learning about the origins of man Your First Number Month day, year What are we learning about the origins of man Man’s origins have long been a source of questioning study, with every generation a new approach is formulated or old approaches are built upon. The ability to decode strands of deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA has allowed science to expand their knowledge in this area. According to biology online DNA is, “A double-stranded nucleic acid that contains the genetic information for cell growth, division, and function.” (Biology online, answers to all your biology questions, 2011) The religious approaches vary based on the religions core belief. some believe that man was created, others that man is simply another phase of life in a cycle of life. In the scientific arena however, much more has been discovered recently thanks to the ability to decode DNA and as a result we are closer than ever to finding our origins, this however, should not be mistaken for understanding it completely yet. Additionally improved methods of dating have been discovered or are being used with increasing accuracy allowing a much better approximation of dates and time lines to be utilized. In 1997 it was announced that the first complete extraction of Neanderthal DNA was completed, subsequently when this DNA was matched to modern human DNA relatively wide differences were discovered, leading some to believe that that Neanderthals are not ancestral members of the human family. According to Jim Foley of Talk Origins.org, “for all three measurements (minimum, average and maximum distances to other humans), the Neanderthal measurement is much larger than the maximum value of the same measurement from a sample of 994 modern humans, and even further from the average value. The Neanderthal is not merely outside the human range, but well outside it” (Foley, 2011) Some legitimate arguments however, are based on the simple fact that we do not know what the rate of mutation may be in this case. Varying results have been discovered from different person’s tests suggesting that the rate of mutation may be more extreme than previously thought. In combining current theories with past theories and utilizing modern testing approaches we stand a better chance of rectifying the eternal question, what is the origin of man. In an additional paper by Horai et al., “… by no means implies that modem humans emerged at that time, the age expected according to the multiregional hypothesis (5) should be as old as 1 Myr if gene exchanges among local populations were limited.” (Horai, Hayasaka, Kondo, Tsugane, & Takahata, 1995) Their testing and research showed that the expected age was much lower than previously expected, they qualified this research by showing that they had not tested all areas, however, the results seemed to indicate a much younger human race than previously assumed. Another relatively recent addition is research completed in 1995 by Penny et al., in the paper they claim that it seems likely given testing completed that humans expanded from Africa relatively recently. They are clear in that the tests are not all inclusive, though they do submit a large amount of information to support their hypothesis. To quote them, “Although these calculations are based on idealized assumptions, they suggest that a neutral allele fixed in the present human population must have arisen well before the major expansion of human numbers” an additional conclusion states, “once the population spreads from a localized region, it is even less likely that all variants in an expanding population will be lost.” (Penny, Steel, Waddell, & Hendy, 1995) They further state that it is important that we utilize all current sciences in obtaining the information necessary to discovering the origins of man, as the time has passed when a singular fossil discovery is appropriate for forming hypothesis of a scientific nature. This does not mean that singular discoveries are not to be treated as nonessential but that additional discoveries will allow a much clearer picture to be assimilated. Next we look at a paper on historical reconstruction and how differences in the varied fossils can make it difficult to date anything with authority. According to authors Forber and Griffith, “Even in cases where the relevant causal processes fall within well-defined theoretically mature domains, historical reconstruction often proves extremely challenging” (Patrick & Eric, 2011) This should not necessarily mean we throw all of the older hypothesis out, however, it does mean that it is important to take each approach with the proverbial grain of salt and research fully. More importantly it does mean that what we have believed for quite some time may not in fact be correct or may have deviations that cannot be accounted for and must be reanalyzed to better clarify questions that arise. What can be seen is that recent advances in other sciences have allowed a much clearer, more defined approach to be taken to the question, what is the origin of man? Though it seems we are just as far from discovering the actual origins as we have been, there are the obvious connotations suggesting that man may have in fact originated much later than previously suspected. There are varied theories ranging from alien assistance to the religious use of creators that may account for some of this, however, it seems that currently there remains much information to be gathered and refined to locate the origins. What has been discovered is that man may not be as old as previously believed. References Foley, J. (2011). Fossil Hominids: mitochondrial DNA. Retrieved from http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/mtDNA.html Horai, S., Hayasaka, K., Kondo, R., Tsugane, K., & Takahata, N. (1995). recent african origin of modern humans revealed by complete sequences of hominoid mitochondrial DNAs. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, 92(1), 532-536. Patrick, F., & Eric, G. (2011). Historical reconstruction: gaining epistemic access to the deep past. philosophy and theory in biology, 3(203), 15. Penny, D., Steel, M., Waddell, P., & Hendy, M. (1995). Large data sets and modern human origins. School of bilogical sciences Massey University, 1(1), 876. biology online, answers to all your biology questions. (2011). DNA. Retrieved from http://www.biology-online.