Advances in Anthropology
2013. Vol.3, No.4, 216-228
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/aa) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/aa.2013.34031
African Eve: Hoax or Hypothesis?
Robert G. Bednarik
International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO), Caulfield South,
Received September 11th, 2013; revised October 9th, 2013; accepted October 29th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Robert G. Bednarik. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
The replacement hypothesis proposes that “modern humans” evolved only in sub-Saharan Africa, through
a speciation event rendering them unable to breed with other hominins. They then spread throughout Af-
rica, then to Asia, Australia and finally to Europe, replacing all other humans by exterminating or out-
competing them. In this critical analysis of the replacement hypothesis it is shown that it began as a hoax,
later reinforced by false paleoanthropological claims and a series of flawed genetic propositions, yet it
became almost universally accepted during the 1990s and has since dominated the discipline. The nu-
merous shortcomings of the hypothesis are appraised from genetic, anthropological, and archaeological
perspectives and it is refuted. The resulting hiatus in the history of the human genus is then filled with an
outline of a comprehensive alternative theory presented recently, which not only explains the origins of
“modern humans” but also numerous so far unexplained aspects of being human.
Keywords: Replacement Hypothesis; Domestication Hypothesis; African Eve; Human Evolution;
Since the decades—long rejection of the contemporaneity of
humans and Diluvial (Pleistocene) fauna (cf. e.g. Boucher de
Perthes, 1846), the former existence of early hominins (cf.
Fuhlrott, 1859), the Pleistocene age of certain cave art (cf. Sau-
tuola, 1880) or the universal rejection of Dubois’ (1894) fossil
man, pleistocene archaeology and paleoanthropology have been
plagued by the failure to rise above sectarian preoccupations
and struggles for authority. The proposition of this paper is that
this “pre-paradigmatic state” (Kuhn, 1962) still pertains, and it
is illustrated with an example that has mesmerized the disci-
pline during recent decades: the origins of “anatomically mod-
ern humans” (AMHs), a nonsensical concept (Latour, 1993).
The notion that the “Upper Paleolithic” was introduced into
Europe from Africa has been around for a long time, for in-
stance Dorothy Garrod believed in this invasion in the early
20th century. In 1973 Professor Reiner Protsch “von Zieten”
proposed that modern humans arose in sub-Saharan Africa,
presenting a series of false datings (Terberger & Street, 2003;
Schulz, 2004) of presumed “modern” fossil specimens from
Europe over the following years (Protsch, 1973, 1975; Protsch
& Glowatzki, 1974; Protsch & Semmel, 1978; Henke & Pro-
tsch, 1978). In 2003 it was shown that all of his datings had
been concocted and he was dismissed by the University of
Frankfurt. However, his idea had in the meantime been deve-
loped into the “Afro-European sapiens” model (Bräuer, 1984),
and a few years later the “African Eve” complete replacement
scenario appeared (Cann et al., 1987; Stringer & Andrews, 1988;
Mellars & Stringer, 1989) and was vigorously developed sub-
sequently (e.g. Vigilant et al., 1991; Tattersall, 1995; Krings et
al., 1997). It was followed by the Pennisi (1999) model, the
“wave theory” (Eswaran, 2002), the Templeton (2002) model,
and the “assimilation theory” (Smith et al., 2005), among others.
Of these, the mitochondrial Eve model is the most extreme,
contending that the purported African invaders of Asia, then
Australia and finally Europe, were a new species, unable to
interbreed with the rest of humanity. They replaced all other
humans, either by exterminating or out-competing them (be it
economically or epidemiologically).
In addition to having been spawned by a hoax there were
right from the start significant methodological problems with
this “African Eve theory”, as the media had dubbed it. The
initial computer modeling by Cann et al. (1987) failed and its
haplotype trees were irrelevant. Based on 136 extant mitochon-
drial DNA samples, it arbitrarily selected one of 10267 alterna-
tive and equally credible haplotype trees (which are very much
more than the number of elementary particles of the entire uni-
verse, about 1070). For instance Maddison (1991) demonstrated
that a re-analysis of the Cann et al.’s model could produce 10,000
haplotype trees that are more parsimonious than the one chosen
by these authors. Yet no method could even guarantee that the
most parsimonious tree result should even be expected to be the
correct tree (Hartl & Clark, 1997: p. 372). Cann et al.’s assump-
tion of constancy of mutation rates of mtDNA was similarly a
myth (Rodriguez-Trelles et al., 2001, 2002). As Gibbons (1998)
noted, by using the modified putative genetic clock, Eve would
not have lived 200,000 years ago, as Cann et al. had contended,
but only 6000 years ago. The various genetic hypotheses about
the origins of “Moderns” that have appeared over the past few
decades placed the hypothetical split between these and other
humans at times ranging from 17,000 to 889,000 years bp (e.g.
Vigilant et al., 1991; Barinaga, 1992; Ayala, 1996; Brookfield
1997). They are all contingent upon purported models of human
R. G. BEDNARIK
demography, but these and the timing or number of coloniza-
tion events are practically fictional: there are no sound data
available for most of these variables. This applies to the conten-
tions concerning mitochondrial DNA (“African Eve”) as much
as to those citing Y-chromosomes (“African Adam”; Hammer,
1995). The divergence times projected from the diversity found
in nuclear DNA, mtDNA, and DNA on the non-recombining
part of the Y-chromosome differ so much that a time regression
of any type is extremely problematic. Contamination of mtDNA
with paternal DNA has been demonstrated in extant species
(Gyllensten et al., 1991; Awadalla et al., 1999; Morris & Ligh-
towlers, 2000; Williams, 2002), in one recorded case amounting
to 90% (Schwartz & Vissing, 2002). The issues of base substi-
tution (Lindhal & Nyberg, 1972) and fragmentation of DNA
(Golenberg et al., 1996) have long been known, and the point is
demonstrated, for instance, by the erroneous results obtained
from the DNA of insects embedded in amber (Gutierrez &
Marin, 1998). Other problems with interpreting or conducting
analyses of paleogenetic materials are alterations or distortions
through the adsorption of DNA by a mineral matrix, its che-
mical rearrangement, microbial or lysosomal enzymes degrada-
tion, and lesions by free radicals and oxidation (Geigl, 2002;
Carlier et al., 2007).
These preliminary considerations suggest that the genetic ba-
sis of the replacement hypothesis was far from sound right from
its inception. The story of how it rapidly became the dominant
model in human evolution, and how for over two decades it
determined what could be published in mainstream venues or
what kind of research would be funded not only rivals the his-
tory and the effects of the Piltdown hoax (Weiner et al., 1953);
it exceeds it in terms of its consequences. It is therefore justi-
fied to examine the epistemology of the “African Eve hypothe-
sis” in some detail, and to determine how it was possible that an
entire discipline was again captivated by a paradigm that, upon
careful reflection, was always improbable—and contradicted by
all the relevant sound evidence available at the time it was
proposed. Although initially conceived on the basis of fossil
skeletal evidence (Protsch, 1973; Bräuer, 1984), it was only in
1987 that the replacement hypothesis became primarily found-
ed on genetics. Its massive influence, however, has affected the
disciplines of paleoanthropology and Pleistocene archaeology
so profoundly that their entire current doctrines need to be que-
stioned to detect the wide-ranging effects of this paradigm. This
will be attempted here by examining the relevant genetics, anth-
ropology and archaeology, after which an outline of the model
to replace the replacement hypothesis will be presented.
This paper attempts to present the differences between two
hypotheses, one of which is almost bereft of empirical support,
while the other has ample support and offers extensive expla-
natory potential. The apparent biases by the author are simply a
reflection of this state.
Since 1987 the genetic distances in nuclear DNA (the dis-
tances created by allele frequencies) proposed by different re-
searchers or research teams have produced conflicting results
(e.g. Vigilant et al., 1991; Barinaga, 1992; Ayala, 1996; Brook-
field, 1997), and some geneticists concede that the models rest
on untested assumptions; others even oppose them (e.g. Bari-
naga, 1992; Hedges et al., 1992; Maddison et al., 1992; Tem-
pleton, 1992, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2005; Brookfield, 1997; Klyo-
sov & Rozhanskii, 2012a, 2012b; Klyosov et al., 2012; Klyosov
& Tomezzoli, 2013). The key claim of the replacement theory,
that the “Neanderthals” were genetically so different from the
“Moderns” that the two were separate species, has been under
strain since Gutierrez et al. (2002) demonstrated that the pair-
wise genetic distance distributions of the two human groups
overlap more than claimed, if the high substitution rate varia-
tion observed in the mitochondrial D-loop region (see Walberg
& Clayton, 1981; Torrini et al., 1994; Zischler et al., 1995) and
lack of an estimation of the parameters of the nucleotide subs-
titution model are taken into account. The more reliable genetic
studies of living humans have shown that both Europeans and
Africans have retained significant alleles from multiple popula-
tions of Robusts (Hardy et al., 2005; Garrigan et al., 2005; cf.
Templeton, 2005). After the Neanderthal genome yielded results
that seemed to include an excess of Gracile single nucleotide
polymorphisms (Green et al., 2006), more recent analyses con-
firmed that “Neanderthal” genes persist in recent Europeans,
Asians, and Papuans (Green et al., 2010). “Neanderthals” (use
of this term here is only to comply with established jargon and
implies no approval; the generic term “Robusts” is preferable)
are said to have “interbred” with the ancestors of Europeans
and Asians, but not with those of Africans (Gibbons, 2010; cf.
Krings et al., 1997). The African alleles occur at a frequency
averaging only 13% in non-Africans, whereas those of other re-
gions match the Neanderthaloids in ten of twelve cases. “Nean-
derthal genetic difference to humans [note however that all
members of the genus Homo are humans!] must therefore be
interpreted within the context of human diversity” (Green et al.,
2006: p. 334). This suggests that gracile Europeans and Asians
evolved largely from local robust populations, which had long
been obvious from previously available evidence. For instance
Alan Mann’s finding that tooth enamel cellular traits showed a
close link between Neanderthaloids and present Europeans,
which both differ from those of Africans (Weiss & Mann, 1978),
had been ignored by the Eve protagonists, as has much other
empirical evidence (e.g., Roginsky et al., 1954; Yakimov, 1980).
In response to the initial refutations of the Eve model, Cann
(2002) made no attempt to argue against the alternative propo-
sals of long-term, multiregional evolution.
So what was it that prompted Pleistocene archaeology and
paleoanthropology to recycle Protsch’s African hoax? Cavalli-
Sforza et al. (1988) considered that the phylogenetic tree sepa-
rates Africans from non-Africans, a view reinforced by Klyo-
sov et al. (2012). But whereas the first authors interpreted this
as placing the origin of “modern humans” in Africa, Klyosov et
al. showed that this separation continued for 160 ± 12 ka since
the split of the haplogroups A from haplogroups BT (Cruciani
et al., 2002); therefore Africans and non-Africans evolved es-
sentially separate. As Klyosov et al. most pertinently observe,
“a boy is not a descendant of his older brother”. Therefore, con-
trary to Chiaroni et al. (2009), haplogroup B is neither restricted
to Africa, nor is it at 64 ka remotely as old as the haplogroups
A are (some of these may be older than 160 ka).
Another flaw of the replacement model was that Cann et al.
had also mis-estimated the diversity per nucleotide (single locus
on a string of DNA), incorrectly using the method developed by
Ewens (1983) and thereby claiming greater genetic diversity of
Africans, compared to Asians and Europeans. This oft-repeated
claim (e.g. Hellenthal et al., 2008; Campbell & Tishkoff, 2010)
is false: the genetic diversity coefficients are very similar,
0.0046 for both Africans and Asians, and 0.0044 for Europeans.
Even the premise of genetic diversity is false, for instance it is
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R. G. BEDNARIK
greater in African farming people than in African hunters-
foragers (Watson et al., 1996), yet the latter are not assumed to
be ancestral to the former (see e.g. Ward et al., 1991). Similarly,
the contention that genetic diversity of extant humans decreases
with increasing geographical distance from Africa (e.g. Atkin-
son, 2011) is doubtful, and has no bearing on the questions of
the origins of the “AMHs”. Certainly such diversity diminishes
markedly in regions first occupied in the Final Pleistocene or
Holocene, which is to be expected, but the number of haplo-
types is higher in Eurasia than in Africa.
It is interesting to note that the “genetic clock” archaeologists
subscribe to in reference to these purported AMHs is rejected
when it is applied to the dog, implying its split from the wolf
occurred 135 ka ago. Archaeologists disallow it because there is
no paleontological evidence for dogs prior to about 15,000
years ago (Napierala & Uerpmann, 2010; but see Germonpré et
al., 2009). The same restraint and avoidance of a catastrophist
scenario is needed in relation to hominins. After all, humans are
only one of the many species that have managed to colonize a
great variety of environments, from the Arctic to the tropics,
and in all cases genetic diversity is thought to be the result of
introgression. Perhaps this discrepancy in approach is attribut-
able to humanistic fervor (Bednarik, 2011a). That view is sup-
ported by a critical consideration of the fossil hominin evidence
and a review of the cultural indices, both of which have been
recruited extensively in support of the “African Eve hypothe-
As noted, the original impetus of the African Eve notion de-
rived from the false datings of numerous hominin remains,
especially in Europe. This included those of the four Stetten
individuals from Vogelherd, Germany, widely claimed to be
about 32 ka old (e.g. Churchill & Smith, 2000a, 2000b), when
in fact their Neolithic provenience had long been noted (Gieseler,
1974; Czarnetzki, 1983: p. 231) and they are between 3980 ±
35 and 4995 ± 35 carbon-years old (Conard et al., 2004). The
Hahnöfersand calvarium, the “northernmost Neanderthal speci-
men found” and dated to 36,300 ± 600 bp or 35,000 ± 2000 bp
(Bräuer, 1980) by Protsch, is actually a Mesolithic “Neander-
thal”, at 7470 ± 100 bp or 7500 ± 55 bp (Terberger & Street,
2003). The Paderborn-Sande skull fragment, purportedly 27,400
± 600 years old (Henke & Protsch, 1978), is only 238 ± 39
carbon-years old (Terberger & Street, 2003). The Kelsterbach
skull, dated to 31,200 ± 1600 years bp (Protsch & Semmel,
1978; Henke & Rothe, 1994), is probably of the Metal Ages
(Terberger & Street, 2003) but has mysteriously disappeared
from its safe. And the cranial fragment from Binshof, dated by
Protsch to 21,300 ± 20 bp, is in fact only 3090 ± 45 years old.
These German finds are not the only misdated fossils from
the crucial period of the “Early Upper Paleolithic” in Europe.
The “modern” Robust specimen from Velika Pećina, Croatia, is
now known to be only 5045 ± 40 radiocarbon years old (Smith
et al., 1999). Those from Roche-Courbon (Geay, 1957) and
Combe-Capelle (originally attributed to the Châtelperronian le-
vels; Klaatsch & Hauser, 1910) are now thought to be Holo-
cene burials (Perpère, 1971; Asmus, 1964), as probably is the
partial skeleton from Les Cottés (Perpère, 1973). The “type fos-
sils” of early “modern” Europeans, the “Aurignacian” Crô-Ma-
gnon specimens, are not at all of modern skeletal anatomy; es-
pecially cranium 3 is quite Neanderthaloid. Moreover, at about
27,760 carbon-years (Henry-Gambier, 2002) they are of the
Gravettian and not of the Aurignacian. A similar pattern per-
tains to the numerous relevant Czech specimens, most of which
are intermediate between robust and gracile. This includes the
Mladeč sample, now dated to between 26,330 and 31,500 bp
(Wild et al., 2005), the very robust specimens from Pavlov and
Předmostí (both between 26 and 27 ka), Podbaba (undated),
and the slightly more gracile and more recent population from
Dolní Věstonice. The same pattern of “intermediate” forms
continues in the specimens from Cioclovina (Romania), Bacho
Kiro levels 6/7 (Bulgaria) and Miesslingtal (Austria).
The earliest liminal “post-Neanderthal” finds currently avail-
able in Europe are the Peştera cu Oase mandible from Romania
(Trinkaus et al., 2003), apparently in the order of 35 ka old, and
the partial cranium subsequently found in another part of the
same cave (Rougier et al., 2007). Both lack an archaeological
context and are not “anatomically modern”. The six human
bones from another Romanian cave, Peştera Muierii (~30 14C
ka bp), are also intermediate between robust and gracile types
(Soficaru et al., 2006). In fact literally hundreds of Eurasian
specimens of the last third of the Late Pleistocene are interme-
diate between robust Homo sapiens and H. sapiens sapiens, or
imply that a simplistic division between “Moderns” and “Ne-
anderthals” is false. They include the finds from Lagar Velho,
Crete, Starosel’e, Rozhok, Akhshtyr’, Romankovo, Samara,
Sungir’, Podkumok, Khvalynsk, Skhodnya, Denisova, and Nar-
mada, as well as several Chinese remains such as those from
the Jinniushan and Tianyuan Caves. The replacement advocates
ignored this obvious obstacle to their model, of numerous inter-
mediate or liminal forms contradicting their belief that robust
and gracile populations were separate species. Moreover, they
failed to appreciate that not a single fully gracile specimen in
Eurasia can credibly be linked to any Early Upper Paleolithic
tool tradition, be it the Aurignacian, Châtelperronian, Uluzzian,
Proto-Aurignacian, Olschewian, Bachokirian, Bohuni-cian, Stre-
letsian, Gorodtsovian, Brynzenian, Spitzinian, Telmanian, Sze-
letian, Eastern Szeletian, Kostenkian, Jankovichian, Altmühlian,
Lincom-bian, or Jerzmanovician (Bednarik, 2011a). Therefore
their proposition that these industries were introduced from
sub-Saharan Africa is without basis, especially as there are no
geographically intermediate Later Stone Age finds from right
across northern Africa until more than 20,000 years after the
Upper Paleolithic had been established in Eurasia. Similarly,
the African Eve advocates ignored that at least six Early Upper
Paleolithic sites have yielded human skeletal remains attributed
to Neanderthals: the Châtelperronian layers of Saint Césaire
(~36 ka) and Arcy-sur-Cure (~34 ka) in France, the Aurigna-
cian of Trou de l’Abîme in Belgium, the Hungarian Jankovi-
chian of Máriaremete Upper Cave (~38 ka; Gábori-Csánk,
1993), the Streletsian of Sungir’ in Russia (which yielded a
Neanderthaloid tibia from a triple grave of “Moderns”; Bader
1978), and the Olschewian of Vindija in Croatia (Smith et al.,
1999, 2005; Ahern et al., 2004). The Neanderthals at the latter
site are the most recent such remains reported so far (28,020 ±
360 and 29,080 ± 400 carbon years bp). Like other late speci-
mens they are much more gracile than most earlier finds—so
much so that many consider them as transitional (e.g. Smith &
Raynard, 1980; Wolpoff et al., 1981; Frayer et al., 1993; Wol-
poff, 1999; Smith et al., 2005).
The replacement paradigm is not even supported by the pa-
leoanthropological finds from Africa, which generally mirror
the gradual changes in Eurasia through time. It is often claimed
R. G. BEDNARIK
that “AMHs” date from up to 200 ka ago, yet no such speci-
mens exist. The skulls from Omo Kibish offer some relatively
modern features as well as substantially archaic ones; especially
Omo 2 is very robust indeed (McDougall et al., 2005). Their
dating, also, is not secure, and Omo 2 is a surface find. The
much more complete and better dated Herto skull, BOU-VP-
16/1, is outside the range of all recent humans in several cranial
measurements (White et al., 2003)—and is just as archaic as
other specimens of the late Middle Pleistocene, in Africa or
elsewhere. The lack of “anatomically modern” humans from
sub-Saharan Africa prior to the supposed Exodus is glaring: the
Border Cave specimens have no stratigraphic context; Dar es
Soltan is undated; and the mandibles of Klasies River Mouth
lack cranial and post-cranial remains. The Hofmeyr skull from
South Africa, about 36 ka old, features intermediate morphol-
ogy (Grine et al., 2007, 2010) comparable to that found in
Europe at that time, e.g. in Romanian specimens. Similarly,
extant Australians, with their average cranial capacity of 1264
cc (males 1347 cc, females 1181 cc, i.e. well within the range
of Homo erectus), possess molars and other indices of robustic-
ity matching those of Europeans several hundred millennia ago,
yet they are “AMHs”. Their tool traditions were of Mode 3
types (Middle Paleolithic) until mid-Holocene times, and re-
mained so in Tasmania until European colonization. Clearly,
the guiding principle of the replacement advocates, that Mode 4
technologies were introduced together with “modern” anatomy
is false, in Europe as well as elsewhere.
The scarcity of African fossils of the African Eve “species”
prompted the replacement advocates to turn to the Levant for
help, which would be on the route the Exodus had taken, and
the Mount Carmel finds from Qafzeh Cave and Skhul Shelter
were recruited as “Moderns” (Stringer et al., 1989; Grün &
Stringer, 1991; Stringer & Gamble, 1993; McDermott et al.,
1993). Yet all of these skulls present prominent tori and reced-
ing chins, even Qafzeh 9, claimed to be of the most modern
appearance. The distinct prognathism of Skhul 9 matches that
of “classic Neanderthals”, and the series of teeth from that cave
has consistently larger dimensions than Neanderthaloid teeth.
Supposedly much later “Neanderthal” burials in nearby Tabun
Cave as well as the Qafzeh and Skhul material are all associ-
ated with the same Mousterian tools, and the datings of all
Mount Carmel sites are far from soundly established, with their
many discrepancies. The TL dates from Qafzeh, for instance,
clash severely with the amino racemization dates (ranging from
33 to 45 ka), and are in any case plagued by inversion: the
lower layer 22 averages 87.7 ka, the middle layer 19 is 90.5 ka,
while the uppermost layer 17 averages 95.5 ka (Mercier et al.,
1993; cf. Bada & Masters Helfman, 1976). Therefore the claims
of 90-ka-old “modern” humans from Mount Carmel, a corner-
stone in the Eve model, are unsound, and this population is best
seen as transitional between robust and gracile forms, from a
time when gracilization had commenced elsewhere as well.
The Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP) tool traditions of Eurasia,
claimed to indicate the arrival of Eve’s progeny there, all evol-
ved locally. They first appear fairly simultaneously between 45
ka and 40 ka bp, even earlier, at widely dispersed locations
from Spain to Siberia (e.g. Makarovo 4/6, Kara Bom, Denisova
Cave, Ust’-Karakol, Tolbaga, Kamenka, Khotyk, Podzvon-kaya,
Tolbor Dorolge, & Bednarik, 1994). The earliest carbon date
was provided by Senftenberg, Austria, at >54 ka bp (Felgen-
hauer, 1959). The Aurignacian of Spain commences at least 43
ka ago (Bischoff et al., 1994; Cabrera Valdés & Bischoff, 1989).
EUP variants such as the Uluzzian (Palma di Cesnola, 1976,
1989), the Uluzzo-Aurignacian, and the Proto-Aurignacian (43
- 33 ka bp) have been reported from southern Italy (Kuhn &
Bietti, 2000; Kuhn & Stiner, 2001). The montane Aurignacoid
tradition of central Europe, the Olschewian (42 - 35 ka bp),
clearly developed from the region’s final Mousterian (Bayer,
1929; Kyrle, 1931; Bächler, 1940; Zotz, 1951; Brodar, 1957;
Malez, 1959; Vértes, 1959; Bednarik, 1993). The Bachokirian
of the Pontic region (>43 ka bp), the Bohunician of east-central
Europe (44 - 38 ka bp; Svoboda, 1990, 1993), and various tra-
ditions of the Russian Plains complete the picture to the east.
Some of the latter industries, such as the Streletsian, Gorodtso-
vian, and Brynzenian derived unambiguously from Mousteroid
technologies, whereas the Spitzinian or Telmanian are free of
Mode 3 bifaces (Anikovich, 2005). The gradual development of
Mode 3 industries into Mode 4 traditions can be observed at
various sites along the Don River, in the Crimea and northern
Caucasus, with no less than seven accepted tool assemblages
coexisting between 36 and 28 ka ago: Mousterian, Micoquian,
Spitzinian, Streletsian, Gorodtsovian, Eastern Szeletian and Au-
rignacian (Krems-Dufour variant). A mosaic of early Mode 4
industries began before 40 ka bp on the Russian Plain and
ended only 24 - 23 ka ago. In fact in the Crimea, the Middle Pa-
leolithic is thought to have ended only between 20 - 18 ka bp,
which is about the same time the Middle Stone Age ended
across northern Africa. In the Russian Plain, the first fully de-
veloped Upper Paleolithic tradition, the Kostenkian, appears
only about 24 ka ago.
The Russian succession of traditions connecting Mode 3 and
4 technocomplexes is repeated in the Szeletian of eastern Eu-
rope (43 - 35 ka bp; Allsworth-Jones, 1986), the Jankovician of
Hungary; and the Altmühlian (~38 ka bp), Lincombian (~38 ka
bp) and Jerzmanovician (38 - 36 ka bp) further northwest.
Similarly, the gradual development from the Middle Paleolithic
at 48 ka bp (with “Neanderthal” footprints of small children) to
the Upper Paleolithic is clearly documented in Theopetra Cave,
Greece (Kyparissi-Apostolika, 2000; Facorellis et al., 2001).
Thus there is a complete absence of evidence in the presumed
eastern or southeastern entry region of Europe, of an intrusive
technology arriving from the Levant. Nor should it be expected,
considering that in the Levant both Mode 3 and Mode 4 indus-
tries were used by robust as well as more gracile populations:
the replacement advocates’ notion that their “Moderns” intro-
duced Mode 4 in Europe is refuted by all archaeological evi-
dence. The Mousteroid traditions of the Levant developed gra-
dually into blade industries, e.g. at El Wad, Emireh, Ksar Akil,
Abu Halka, & Bileni Caves, and that region’s Ahmarian is tran-
sitional. This can be observed elsewhere in southwestern Asia,
for instance the Aurignacoid Baradostian tradition of Iran clear-
ly develops in situ from Middle Paleolithic antecedents. The
late Mousterian of Europe is universally marked by regiona-
lization (Kozłowski, 1990; Stiner, 1994; Kuhn, 1995; Riel-Sal-
vatore & Clark, 2001), miniaturization, and increasing use of
blades, as well as by improved hafting technique. This includes
the use of backed or blunted-back retouch on microliths set in
birch resin in Germany, almost as early as the first use of mi-
crolithic implements in the Howieson’s Poort tradition of far
southern Africa. Therefore the notion that a genetically and
paleoanthropologically unproven people with a Mode 4 tool set
Open Access 219
R. G. BEDNARIK
travelled from sub-Saharan Africa across northern Africa is
completely unsupported, while there is unanimous proof that
these traditions developed in situ in many Eurasian regions long
before they reached either northern Africa or the Levant.
Precisely the same applies to paleoart. The replacement ad-
vocates relied considerably on the unassailability of their belief
that the EUP traditions, especially the Aurignacian, were by
“AMHs” (Graciles). As mentioned above, there are no unam-
biguous associations between “AMHs” and any of the many
identified EUP tool traditions, including the Aurignacian. These
“cultures”, as they are called, are merely etic constructs, “ob-
server-relative or institutional facts” (Searle, 1995); as “archae-
ofacts” or “egofacts” (Consens, 2003) they have no real, emic
existence. They are entirely made up of invented (etic) tool
types and based on the misunderstanding in Pleistocene archa-
eology that tools are diagnostic for identifying cultures. The
authentic cultural variables of Pleistocene archaeology have
never been employed in creating the period’s cultural nomen-
clature. Cultures are defined by cultural variables, but Pleisto-
cene archaeology as it is conducted relegates the cultural infor-
mation available (such as rock art and portable “art”) to mar-
ginal rather than central status, forcing it into the false techno-
logical framework it has created.
One of the effects of this misunderstanding has a direct bear-
ing of the “African Eve hypothesis”. Among the EUP traditions
its advocates attribute to AMHs, the Châtelperronian was in
1979 discovered to be the work of Neanderthals. But the Châ-
telperronian of Arcy-sur-Cure in France had produced nume-
rous portable palaeoart objects, including beads and pendants
(Figure 1). So the Eve supporters argued that the primitive
Neanderthals, incapable of symboling, must have “scavenged”
and used these artifacts (White, 1993; Hublin et al., 1996). They
failed to explain, however, why such primordial creatures would
possibly scavenge symbolic objects and what they would do
with them. This is one of numerous examples of the accom-
modative reasoning of the replacement advocates, others can be
found in d’Errico (1995), d’Errico and Villa (1997) and Ri-
gaud et al. (2009); or in the assertion that Early Pleistocene
Body ornaments made and used by “Neanderthals”,
from Arcy-sur-Cure, France: two ivory ring fragments,
two perforated animal canines, and a fossil shell with
an artificial groove for attachment.
seafaring colonizers (Bednarik, 1997, 1999, 2003) might have
drifted on vegetation. After it was first observed that there is no
evidence linking early Aurignacian finds to the purported Mo-
derns (Bednarik, 1995), it was proposed that no such link exists
to any EUP industry (Bednarik, 2007, 2008a). The contention
that the Aurignacian rock art (e.g. in Chauvet Cave, Zarzamora
Cave, El Castillo) and portable paleoart (e.g. in Hohlenstein),
arguably the most complex and sophisticated of the entire
Upper Paleolithic, is the work either of “Neanderthals” or of
their direct descendants (Bednarik, 2007, 2008a, 2011a, 2011b;
Sadier et al., 2012) has demolished the last vestiges of support
for the “African Eve hypothesis”. It now stands refuted. The re-
cord shows unambiguously that the Upper Paleolithic of Eura-
sia developed in situ, that the hominins in question evolved in
situ, and that introgression accounts fully for the genetic obser-
vations. “Modern” or gracile humans derive from archaic H. sa-
piens in four continents, they interbred no more than grand-
children breed with their grandparents.
Klyosov et al. 2012, who demonstrate genetically that recent
human evolution in Eurasia must have occurred in situ, list no
less than 24 papers asserting that “AMHs” (see Tobias, 1996
for a cogent rejection of this concept) entered Europe between
27 and 112 ka ago. Most of these nominate 40 to 70 ka as the
time of the “African invasion”. It would seem that these unte-
nable propositions simply reflect archaeological estimates of a
phenomenon that never actually occurred (Bednarik, 2013b).
Replacing the “African Eve Hypothesis”
Replacing the replacement theory is not going to be easy,
because of the deeply embedded vested interests defending it.
Yet it lacks any archaeolo-gical, paleoanthropological, techno-
logical, or cultural evidence (Bednarik, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997,
2008a, 2011a). Introgressive hybridization (Anderson, 1949),
allele drift based on generational mating site distance (Harpen-
ding et al., 1998), and genetic drift (Bednarik, 2011b) through
episodic genetic isolation during climatically unfavorable events
(Barberi et al., 1978; Fedele et al., 2002, 2003; Fedele & Gia-
ccio, 2007) account for the mosaic of hominin forms found
from the Arctic (Schulz, 2002; Schulz et al., 2002; Pavlov et al.,
2001) to the tropics, from Iberia to Australia. The failure of the
“African Eve hypothesis” leaves a huge hiatus in the received
narrative of hominin evolution, in that the most controversial
part of it is left without an explanation. The alternative multi-
regional model, almost vanquished in the wake of Eve, offers a
reprieve, but it is in need of much greater detail. Its vantage
position derives from default: as the single origin notion fails,
there is only one option left, namely that changes occurred in
many centers in four continents. This is broadly what the ar-
chaeological, paleoanthropological, and genetic data gathered
so far imply, but for the past decades only a handful of scholars
subscribed to this position (e.g. Thorne & Wolpoff, 1981; Bed-
narik, 1992, 1995 et passim; Brace, 1993, 1999; Wolpoff & Ca-
spari, 1996; Wolpoff, 1999; Eckhart, 2000; Henneberg, 2004).
What remains profoundly lacking is a theory of the processes
underlying the rather sudden appearance of what has been term-
The greatest mistake of the replacement advocates was to
disregard the inherent fundamentals of the hominin changes
toward the end of the Pleistocene. For instance human brain
volume, after the relentless encephalization of millions of years,
suddenly began decreasing rapidly (Henneberg, 1988, 2004).
R. G. BEDNARIK
Open Access 221
The reversal introduced a reduction at a rate 37 times greater
than the previous rate of increase in cranial space (Figure 2),
which is not just a dramatic phenomenon, but occurred during a
time that is universally agreed as having been marked by in-
creasing demands on the brain. Human encephalization is the
most remarkable aspect of human evolution (Henneberg, 1990;
Henneberg & Steyn, 1993; De Miguel & Henneberg, 2001),
almost unequalled in the species of this planet (the horse is an
exception), yet its massive reversal in the last forty millennia
was completely ignored by Eve’s supporters. Not only that,
their claimed speciation event in a sense explained it away. But
brain atrophy (Bednarik, 2013a, in press) commenced in late
Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and it is not the only unex-
plained adverse development during this period. It coincided
with massive reduction in physical power and in skeletal robus-
ticity, which were hardly advantageous anatomical adaptations
in a Paleolithic setting. The rapid atrophy of the human brain
cannot be explained effectively by changes in lifestyle, diminu-
tion of body weight or stature, genetic drift or climate change
(Bennett et al., 1964; Bedi & Bhide, 1988; Rightmire, 2004;
Bailey & Geary, 2009; Bednarik, in press). All the Eve advo-
cates offer in explanation for these significant deleterious
changes is speciation, with the unproven and unprovable notion
that these were more than compensated for by a more powerful
brain, underwriting technology, symbolism, and language (but
see Pinker, 1994; Tobias, 1996; Bednarik, 1997; Falk, 2009;
Bickerton, 2010). In other words, for several million years the
increasing complexity of hominin societies was made possible
by continuous encephalization, and the sudden brain atrophy fa-
cilitated even more cognitive and intellectual advances. Not
that the Eve people ever used this absurd argument, their entire
project did not even consider such details. Encephalization in-
volved enormous costs, for instance in its obstetric demands
(O’Connell et al., 1999), but also for its burden to society and
to the breeding cycle (Falk, 2009; Bednarik, 2011a, 2011c). To
suggest that such a severe impediment to reproductive fitness
(Joffe, 1997) as this abnormally enlarged organ was tolerated
by evolutionary selection without some very significant com-
pensatory developments is biologically untenable. The tolera-
tion of this great cost is justified by the significant advantages
of the larger brain, particularly in cognitive and intellectual re-
turns. Yet if the much reduced modern human brain is capable
of even greater processing power, the previous argument is
But there are many more contradictions. For instance the
“African Eve hypothesis” would be incapable of addressing the
classical Keller and Miller paradox, or any other deeper ques-
tions raised by neuroscience or cognitive science. Not only are
the replacement advocates unable to explain why natural selec-
tion has allowed the establishment of thousands of genetic dis-
orders, neuropathologies, and neurodegenerative conditions af-
flicting modern humans; their model has actually prevented the
explanation of this paradox (Keller & Miller, 2006, and exten-
sive debate therein). Its rationalization of recent evolution by
natural selection and genetic drift caused by a bottleneck cannot
account for this, and for numerous other features of human
modernity (Bednarik, 2012). It cannot, for instance, explain the
loss of estrus in humans or the genetic base of exclusive ho-
mosexuality. In fact it cannot explain any feature endemic to
the “human condition” (Bednarik, 2011a). Not only that, by its
absolute dominance it has, for over twenty years, prevented the
probing of more profound issues in human evolution, effec-
tively stifling the discipline with its rhetoric, and its supporters
have very effectively thwarted the publication of dissent in the
Meanwhile the advocacy of an alternative model explaining
the most recent phase of hominin evolution has been con-
strained to more innovative venues (Bednarik, 2007, 2008a,
2008b, 2011a, 2011c, 2012, 2013a, in press; Bednarik & Hel-
venston, 2012) and still lacks a critique by opponents. It is the
domestication hypothesis, according to which the distinctive ne-
otenization of humans during the most recent 40,000 years or
so is attributed to sexual selection driven by cultural constructs,
which effectively resembles a Mendelian domestication process.
Domestication promotes unfavorable alleles (e.g. Horrobin,
1998, 2001; Andolfatto, 2001; Lu et al., 2006), and it can even
account for otherwise unexplained features, such as exclusive
homosexuality. Selective breeding defies natural evolution in
the sense that it can rapidly change the characteristics of a po-
pulation without any natural selection in the Darwinian sense
occurring. Domestication of animals typically results in de-
creased cranial volume relative to body size, a decrease that can
be as much as 30% - 40%. Neotenous physical traits arising
from the domestication of animals include changes in reproduc-
tive cycles (loss of estrus), fewer or shortened vertebra, curly
tails (Trut, 1999), loss of hair, larger eyes, rounded forehead,
reduced skeletal robusticity, and shortened muzzle (Bertone,
2006). Many of these (and others) reflect the gracilization noted
in humans, and that also applies to the changes in behavior, to-
ward playfulness, behavioral plasticity, exploratory pattern, and
pathology. Neotenous somatic traits in gracile humans include
thin-walled, globular skulls lacking prominent tori; almost
vertical facial plane; hair limited largely to the top of the head
and the chin; absence of a penis bone, presence of the labia
The rapid brain atrophy of humans in the Final Pleistocene and the Holocene, in ccm/ml.
R. G. BEDNARIK
majora and hymen; alignment of the organs of the lower
abdomen, such as rectum, urethra and vagina forward of the
spine; slow closing of the cranial sutures; shape of the cartilage
of the ear; and the shape of both hands and feet. All of these
features in modern humans resemble those of fetal chimpanzees,
and all of them disappear in apes around birth or soon after,
whereas in humans sexual maturity is attained before full so-
matic development, and the juvenile characteristics are retained
for life (De Beer, 1930, 1940; Haldane, 1932; Ashley Montagu,
1960; Badcock, 1980). Neotenous development of recent homi-
nins is one of many results of selective breeding.
Unintentional self-domestication through deliberate breed-
ing-mate choice is unique to recent humans: no other animal,
including primates, exhibits preferences in mate selection of
youth or specific body ratios, facial features, skin tone or hair;
yet in present humans these are deeply entrenched, practically
“hardwired”. Facial symmetry, seen to imply high immuno-
competence (Grammer & Thornhill, 1994; Shackelford & Lar-
sen, 1997), is also of importance, and in female humans neo-
tenous facial and other features are strongly preferred by males
(Jones, 1995, 1996). Since this applies today, the rational way
to examine the issue is to consider at what point in human de-
velopment the influence of non-evolutionary currents can be
first detected. The fossil record suggests that around 40 ka ago,
cultural practice had become such a determining force in hu-
man society that breeding mate selection became increasingly
moderated by cultural factors, i.e. by factors attributable to
learned behavior (Bednarik, 2008a, 2008b, 2011a, 2013a). These
could have included the application of a variety of cultural con-
structs in such choices, such as social standing, communication
skills, body decoration (which becomes notably prominent 40
ka ago, although existing earlier), but most especially culturally
negotiated constructs of physical attractiveness.
Besides the domestication hypothesis there is currently no
alternative explanation for the rapid and continuing establish-
ment of the thousands of neuropathological, neurodegenerative
and other detrimental alleles typically absent in extant non-hu-
man primates (Rubinsztein et al., 1994; Walker & Cork, 1999;
Olson & Varki, 2003). Selective genetic sweeps tend to yield
relatively recent etiologies, of less than 20,000 years, for all hu-
man neuropathologies. For instance the absence of such schi-
zophrenia susceptibility alleles as NRG3 is demonstrated in an-
cestral robust humans (Voight et al., 2006), and this mental ill-
ness has been suggested to be of very recent etiology (Hare,
1988; Bednarik & Helvenston, 2012). Numerous deleterious
conditions were derived from the neoteny accounting for mod-
ern humans, including cleidocranial dysplasia or delayed clo-
sure of cranial sutures, malformed clavicles, and dental abnor-
malities (genes RUNX2 and CBRA1 refer), type 2 diabetes
(gene THADA); the microcephalin D allele, introduced in the
final Pleistocene (Evans et al., 2005); or the ASPM allele, an-
other contributor to microcephaly, which appeared around 5800
years ago (Mekel-Bobrov, 2005). A good example of the recent
advent of detrimental genes is that of CADPS2 and AUTS2,
involved in autism and absent in robust humans. The human
brain condition autistic spectrum disorder seems to have be-
come notably more prominent in recent centuries, even decades
(Jacob et al., 2009; Weintraub, 2011; Kim et al., 2011; Buchen,
2011). These and thousands of other deleterious genetic pre-
dispositions (the genes accounting for about 1700 of the 5000 -
6000 Mendelian disorders had been identified over a decade
ago) cannot be accounted for in a system determined entirely by
natural selection, and unless many of them can be detected in
pre-gracile hominins, their widespread existence in the extant
human genome can only be explained by the domestication hy-
pothesis. It is the most elegant explanation ever formulated for
the human condition (Bednarik, 2011a).
In other words, this alternative hypothesis, which replaces
the replacement hypothesis, is not only in agreement with all
the empirical evidence, being it archaeological, anthropological,
or genetic; it also has astonishing explanatory power, something
entirely lacking in the Eve hypothesis. It is capable of elucidat-
ing the Keller and Miller paradox, explaining exclusive homo-
sexuality, the shedding of estrus, the swift neotenization in re-
cent humans, the rapid atrophy of human brains, the prolifera-
tion of mental illness and all other neuropathology, and of
countless other genetically based disorders and conditions. It
explains comprehensively the human condition as we know it:
the contradictions, tensions, and paradoxes accounting for the
complexities of human nature. The domestication hypothesis is
even capable of explaining how recent humans compensated
cognitively for their rapid brain size reduction (Bednarik, in
press), a simple issue that is so fundamental to the nature of our
sub-species that it cannot be overemphasized. By comparison,
the replacement hypothesis explains practically nothing.
Two considerations emerge from this insight. First, it needs
to be asked why such an unlikely model as the “African Eve
hypothesis” ever gained such wide, almost universal acceptance.
Its popularity appears to be attributable to the feel-good sub-
liminal message that all extant humans are essentially distant
cousins. It also seems to express a faint feminist message, and
the idea that Africans, as the source of us all, should not be dis-
criminated against. These wholesome notions may be very com-
mendable, but they cannot change that the hypothesis also ra-
tionalizes genocide, explaining it as an inevitable process—a
rather less opportune aspect. But a more rational perspective
which needs to be asked: is it the role of science to exercise
moral acumen in presenting its findings, or does science strive
to operate as a detached agent and present its findings without
any subliminal perspective? The question is not whether it suc-
ceeds in this, but merely what it aims for.
The second consideration follows on from the first. The re-
placement of humanist psychology with scientific modes of
investigation is a symptom of the inevitable general process of
supplanting the “soft sciences” with the “hard” (Becher, 2001;
Bednarik, 2011a), a slow but inevitable course. Just as astro-
logy was replaced with astronomy, or phrenology with neuro-
science, in many of its practices traditional archaeology lacks
the rigor of a scientific discipline. Phenomena that are of in-
terest to it, such as behavior, thinking, intention, or personality,
cannot be quantified effectively and with a semblance of ob-
jectivity by the humanities (cf. Panksepp, 1998). The impro-
bably high support research which has reported for initial hypo-
theses in such humanities as psychology and psychiatry (Sterl-
ing, 1959; Klamer et al., 1989; Fanelli, 2010) is several times
that yielded in the hard sciences, indicating systematic bias.
The logical and methodological rigor employed to test hypo-
theses varies systematically across disciplines and fields. Papers
in psychology, psychiatry, and business studies report positive
testing of hypotheses five times as often as space science, while
the biological disciplines rank intermediate. Studies applying
R. G. BEDNARIK
behavioral and social methodologies on people rank 3.4 times hi-
gher than physical and chemical studies on non-biological ma-
terial, using the same index of confirmation bias (Press &
Tanur, 2001). The social sciences are thus qualitatively differ-
rent from the hard sciences (Shipman, 1988; Latour, 2000; Si-
monton, 2004; Bishop, 2007; Bednarik, 2011a), and psycho-
logy and psychiatry, for instance, “pretend to be sciences, off-
ering allegedly empirical observations about the functions and
malfunctions of the human mind” (Szasz, 2006). Yet they are
still considerably more rigorous than Pleistocene archaeology,
arguably the softest of the “soft sciences” (Bednarik, 2013b).
This is most apparent in investigating the epistemology of
the “African Eve” or replacement hypothesis, which became
incredibly popular without presenting comprehensive empirical
evidence and without really explaining anything with its central
proposition. Initially based on a 1970s hoax that was uncovered
in 2003/4, it has very adversely affected the course of the disci-
pline for two or three decades, through its biases against com-
peting theories. The inherent practice of Pleistocene archae-
ology, evident since the times of Boucher de Perthes and Pen-
gelly, of stifling dissent rather than addressing it continues to
determine the discipline’s dogma. But it is not the rejection of
such dissent that one should find disturbing; it is the subse-
quent grudging acceptance of corrections and the inexorable
watering down and inevitable corruption of the alternatives.
The many historical cases all present the same pattern: ulti-
mately, usually several decades later, the corrections were ac-
cepted, but the discipline misinterpreted them and veered off on
yet another false course. The entire discipline would not exist if
the propositions of Boucher de Perthes and Pengelly had not
been absorbed, and yet ever since it has inevitably rejected
major corrections, throughout most of two centuries, only to
eventually accept them in corrupted forms. The explanation of
this “inverted falsificationism” is beyond the scope of the pre-
sent paper, but it has been attempted (Bednarik, 2013b).
In the case of the “African Eve hypothesis” this mechanism
has led to the most incredible ideas. Among them are the pro-
positions that only H. sapiens sapiens are human (even by some
geneticists), that all earlier hominins should rightly belong to
the apes (Davidson & Noble, 1990), that the use of language
and symbolism began with the “Moderns”, that these were un-
able to breed with any other hominins, and that they are su-
perior to the Robusts in a whole raft of ways. The last-mention-
ed shows that Pleistocene archaeology has never addressed the
most important question in the discipline: what is it that caused
the development of hominins to change from an evolutionary
(dysteleological) process to a teleological one? It is generally
agreed that this process began as an evolutionary progression,
determined essentially by Darwinian natural selection. It should
also be obvious that it ended as the precise opposite: a teleo-
logical, clearly not evolutionary process. In speaking of “cul-
tural evolution”, archaeologists illustrate the incommensurabi-
lity of their discipline and the sciences: archaeological pro-
gressivism, based as it is on a Eurocentric reality construct,
implicitly views development as teleological, toward “more de-
veloped” forms. Regarding evolution as having an ultimate pur-
pose, the creation of a superior species, is an ideologically in-
spired falsity (i.e. deriving from religion), and the concept of
“cultural evolution” is an oxymoron. One might say that the
development and transmission of culture is by memes rather
than genes, and is reversible. Thus the change from a dysteleo-
logical to a teleological development is the key element in
understanding the human condition (Bednarik, 2011a), and yet
it has never been examined in this light. How human self-se-
lection and human culture changed the process to a teleological
one is therefore crucial to understanding recent hominin history.
But it is incompatible with the view that supposedly modern
humans (cf. Latour, 1993) are the result of a speciation event—
that they are a species different from robust H. sapiens types.
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culture sidelining natural selection, and all “modern” humans
derive from robust populations. Hence our ancestors did not
“interbreed” with them (which in the Eve model is in any case
impossible as it would negate the concept of species); we are
their progeny, albeit altered by a process we ourselves brought
about. It involved selection in favor of neoteny—and it is called
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