ARCC project members Paul Lane, Anneli Ekblom, and Anna Shoemaker recently attended the international conference on human diversity (May 22-25), hosted by the Schlebusch Lab, Uppsala University.
Africa, the Cradle of Human Diversity Conference was dedicated to exploring diversity in relation to crucial chapters of past and recent African history from a cross-disciplinary perspective. The conference covered an extensive time range, starting with the evolution of early humans in Africa to the complex cultural and genetic diversity of modern-day African populations. Demographic events including mass migrations within and between the major regions in the continent, African islands, and beyond have shaped the genetic makeup of humans around the world. Examples of these large scale events include the expansion of Bantu-speaking farmers, Indian Ocean trade-networks and one of the darkest chapters in human history, the transatlantic slave trade. The conference assembled leading researchers from different fields to present and discuss state-of-the-art approaches to addressing long-standing questions about past and present human diversity in Africa. Over the course of three days we explored modern human origins in Africa, the history of farming expansions, and how people, plants, objects, and animals adapt to new environments and cultural transitions. Conference contributors spanned the fields of paleoanthropology, paleogenomics, evolutionary genetics, biological anthropology, archaeology, historical linguistics, and population genetics.