Perspective

Out of Africa? No, Out of Everywhere

Without any reason I thought of our ancestors today, the ancients, and that got me worried.

I do not know anything about anthropology or paleoanthropology, but I do believe that our ancestors of the distant past, eons away from now, evolved in this landmass itself and did not come ‘Out of Africa.’

In other words, if at all they were monkeys, as the anthropologists make us believe, or advanced versions of monkeys, they were monkeys of Indian, or at least Asian origin, and not of African descent or import.

I say this because  I am convinced of one fact: Though the genes may have similarities in a DNA analysis, the traits are vastly different when comparing the present generation of Homo Sapiens from this part of the world with those from East Africa, an area that anthropologists tout as the cradle of human evolution.

I take my own example. At eighty, I think, I am vastly different in traits, characteristics, vital statistics, outlook, inclinations etc etc from an average eighty-year old East African male. The only similarity is that perhaps both may still harbour some traits of the primate of yore. That is understandable.

The Out of Africa Theory, that humans evolved in East African jungles and then spread out far and wide to populate the rest of the world, is a pet postulate of anthropologists or anthro apologists. The timeline they give is a staggering six million years: marching onwards from primates to homo-erectus, from arboreal to terrestrial form of life, from four legged movement to bipedal movement, or simply walking on two hind legs, the evolution takes millions of years. And Homo Sapiens, or Wise Men, as we call ourselves, came into being between two million and one million years before the present.

While the Out of Africa Theory is the most predominant hypothesis on human evolution, there are other anthropologists who point out a parallel or multi-regional evolution. I am a votary of the second category, for obvious reasons. We are not migrants from Africa, we evolved here itself.

The anthropologists tell us evolution is a process of transformation over a period of millions of years. No doubt about that. But when they say we evolved from primates, the question arises as to why there is a variety of primates in their plenty now, Gorillas, Orang Utans and Chimpanzees, the last mentioned described as our closest relative in the evolution timeline?

When I put this question, Google had an interesting answer, so befitting an anthropologist:

"If people evolved from apes, then why are there still apes? This is a good question, and it points out a common misconception. The quick answer is that humans didn't actually evolve from modern apes. But we did both evolve from a common ancestor who happened to look more like an ape than a human.”

This is a clever but misleading answer, I feel. If both we and the apes had a common ancestor, say the same parent or the same grandparent or great grandparent, it amounts to the same: that we descended from the same stock—the apes.

In that case the question remains. Why the evolution did not touch the chimpanzees and other hirsute apes over the millennia when one of their closest cousins went on to become the fair skinned, fair looking and wise and vile Homo Sapiens today? And such a change, ‘a sea change into something rich and strange,’ as the Bard said, has taken place only in the case of humans and not in the case of any of the animal, avian or plant species. Why?

I think anthropology is too serious a subject to be left to the discretion, or whims and fancies, of the anthropologists, as it involves OUR ancestry. It is for us to assert our concept of our ancestral roots. If we succeed it is well and good.  ‘Out with Africa.’

Otherwise, we will often be reminded of our arboreal past and when we look at our sweet and slender palm we may see the Monkey’s Paw.

19-Aug-2023

More by :  P. Ravindran Nayar

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