Demographic Reticulation!

I made an offhand comment on Twitter that it would take a few decades for the public to understand the insight that demographic reticulation is ubiquitous in human prehistory. This is probably the biggest claim in Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past.

Well, it turns out that that is a new phrase. I confirmed it myself. If Google is perplexed, it must be a novelty.

As many of you know ‘populations’ are constructs. Really what’s happening is that we’re tracing the genealogies of genes, and those summary genealogies give us insights into population splits and mixture.

Reticulation is a pretty general concept in evolution and genetics. I didn’t really know what other terms to give the dynamic I was alluding to.

What other term describes the process you see in the admixture graph below?


4 thoughts on “Demographic Reticulation!

  1. As you’ll recall, Lee Burger and John Hawks pushed the metaphor of “braided stream”, especially when Homo naledi papers came out. For a popular audience, I’ve always liked it best. Far better than the dated evolutionary tree or bush.

    Reticulation is of course the proper scientific term, so is preferred if writing for a technical audience.

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