Yet scientists are delivering new answers to the question of European identity and ancestry. Their findings suggest that the continent has been a melting pot since the Ice Age.
People populating Europe today, are a varying mix of ancient bloodlines hailing from Africa, the Middle East, and the Russian steppe. (National Geographic)
All remains of early ‘hominids’ discovered until now, have been African. But towards the end of the second World War, German soldiers building a bunker in occupied Greece found part of a fossilized jawbone with human-like features.
Then, in 2009, an ancient tooth was discovered in southern Bulgaria. Until the date at which El Greco lived was determined, the dominant evolution theory was that humans have roots in Africa. Yet now El Greco has become our earliest known pre-human ancestor and he was European.
These remains suggest that modern humans evolved in the Balkan region. The lower jaw of the 7.175 million year old Graecopithecus Freybergi from Pyrgos Vassilissis, in Greece suggests that human ancestors were present in the Balkans before they were in Africa. (Irish Examiner)
The above finding, should seriously make us reevaluate all that we thought about human evolution and the history of our own species. Is it possible that we didn't evolve in Africa, or at least not just in that continent, consequently escaping in one or numerous big migrations to conquer the rest of the Earth?
Could there be a possibility that humans and other humanoid species, evolved in many parts of the world, just like many other animals and through migration, crossbreeding and evolution managed to populate every corner of our planet, in all different forms and subspecies?
What I found very astonishing and hard to understand or accept from the dominant "out of Africa" theory, is that in just 200,000-300,000 years as this theory suggests, humans managed not only to cover vast amounts of land on foot to populate the whole of the globe,but adapt in new and ever changing environments and also evolve in all the different races and ethnic groups that are known today.
All that, by just a handful of early members of the Sapiens species, that against all odds managed to get all other humanoids extinct, replacing their populations with no obvious physical trace, establishing one large single species of humanity that created our modern civilization.
Yet we are willingly and purposely deluding ourselves, perhaps because of our need for a pure national identity, or even worse, our guilt of the crimes and atrocities we committed to other fellow humans in the past. With a deep rooted romantic view of humanity due to religion, philosophy and our arrogance as a species, since we do not see ourselves as animals that fall under evolutionary rules, we cannot accept that other human species may have had an influence in our modern humanity.
In addition, we refuse to accept our most primal need and habit; immigration. We constantly try to find new ways and laws to prevent it or control it, but let's be honest about it, we have this trait deep within us since the dawn of our existence on this planet.
In fact, every single first major human civilization occurred, where continents met, people mingled and mixed, fought each other, interacted and exchanged ideas. And not just in antiquity.
In Eurasia, interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans with modern humans took place several times. The introgression events into modern humans is estimated to have happened about 47,000–65,000 years ago with Neanderthals and about 44,000–54,000 years ago with Denisovans.
Neanderthal-derived DNA was found in the genome of contemporary populations in Europe and Asia. It accounted for 1–4% of modern genomes, although estimates may vary. Neanderthal-derived ancestry is absent from most modern populations in sub-Saharan Africa, while Denisovan-derived ancestry is absent from modern populations in Western Eurasia and Africa.
However, in Africa, archaic alleles consistent with several independent admixture events in the subcontinent have been found. It is currently unknown who these archaic African hominids were.
In 2006, the occurrence of this hybrid in nature was confirmed by testing the DNA of a unique-looking bear that had been shot in the Canadian Arctic. The number of confirmed hybrids has since risen to eight.
In addition, the “eastern coyote” or "coywolf", has colonized the forests of eastern North America. New genetic tests show that all eastern coyotes are actually a mix of three species: coyote, wolf and dog. The percentages vary, dependent upon exactly which test is applied and the geographic location of the canine.
Coyotes in the Northeast are mostly (60%-84%) coyote, with lesser amounts of wolf (8%-25%) and dog (8%-11%). Start moving south or east and this mixture slowly changes. (IFL Science)
So if hybridization can happen in bears and dogs and we are so fascinated and ready to accept and study it, why is it so hard to accept that we as humans, have also been mongrels at some stage? In fact, this gene diversity could be what gives us that amazing variety in our skin color, shape of eyes, texture and color of our hair, stature and so on.
If early humans interbred with other humanoids and then among themselves in their migrations, then we could easily see how this diversity of ours could take place in such a sort time, rather try to explain it in evolutionary and climate factors, like the cold climate, sun exposure and high altitude, which could have a secondary role in human evolutionary morphology.
Furthermore, this reality casts a doubt in any effort to preserve racial purity, or halt immigration by building high walls, since we are all a result of crossbreeding, migration and constant mixing between different human and humanoid groups.
Even more recently in modern times, globalization also makes it necessary for less nationalism, more open borders, less protectionism and the reinforcement of the idea of one human race, living in brotherhood, peace and constant collaboration for a common good and betterment. And rightly so.
But why our vision for a better future, must stand in the way of finding who we really are? Are we so immature to accept that in our past, we were nomads and of mixed ancestry, something that is still very much present today in all continents.
The fact that there has never been an ethnically pure nation, nor racially or even as a species, should actually make us more relaxed about immigration and willing to mingle and come in contact with people of other backgrounds. Sadly, it rather has the opposite effect.
We are reluctant in accepting the fact that the differences among our species, are something to be celebrated, studied and accepted as a proud badge from our time on this planet, it is our heritage and past, rather feel awkward about it.
Because what we fear is that if we openly accept that some of us have partially different gene background, immediately some groups will grasp this opportunity to divide us and spread hate and fear for one another, just like in the past, with horrendous consequences.
In the name of some absurd racial purity or supremacy and superiority, we have enslaved, butchered and annihilated other human beings, in an effort to control them and erase their culture and heritage, together with themselves. Haven't we still learned from our past mistakes I wonder.
Finally, wouldn't it be a great and long delayed recognition to our other human cousins, of their contribution to the modern humanity and perhaps not just with DNA exchanged, rather cultural ones as well.
What if the first Sapiens to enter Europe learned to survive the harsh environment that existed in our continent back then, because of their inbreeding and mingling with the dwindling in numbers Neanderthals. Maybe the latter did not just pass their genes to us, but also their ability to deal with harsh winters.
Since all Europeans are deriving from three major human ancestral groups, which in their turn could have been the outcome of other human or humanoid populations, we understand that we are the product of all these people, of all these migrations and different ethnic, racial, human species or subspecies groups and we owe who we are to all the above.
So instead of sitting comfortably in fear towards migration and bigotry towards the migrants, maybe it is time to accept that change has made us who we are and will continue to do so long after we are gone.
Not that immigration does not pose any challenges and problems that should be addressed and dealt with. Nor that we should be ashamed to feel the need to identify ourselves as part of an ethnic group, maintain our culture and pass it on to the next generation. This is after all what all the humans before us have been doing and that is why we have inherited such a rich and diverse cultural legacy.
But this cultural identity is not just our own, it belongs to all humanity, everyone of us is part of it. And if immigration, multiculturalism and cultural differences or clashes cause some problems, no need to fret, they have always been challenging and sometimes destructive. Yet in the long term, these problems should not stop us from being what we have always been; pioneering, migrating, mingling humans of all kinds.