Human generation times across the past 250,000 years.

TitleHuman generation times across the past 250,000 years.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsWang, RJ, Al-Saffar, SI, Rogers, J, Hahn, MW
JournalSci Adv
Date Published2023 Jan 06

The generation times of our recent ancestors can tell us about both the biology and social organization of prehistoric humans, placing human evolution on an absolute time scale. We present a method for predicting historical male and female generation times based on changes in the mutation spectrum. Our analyses of whole-genome data reveal an average generation time of 26.9 years across the past 250,000 years, with fathers consistently older (30.7 years) than mothers (23.2 years). Shifts in sex-averaged generation times have been driven primarily by changes to the age of paternity, although we report a substantial increase in female generation times in the recent past. We also find a large difference in generation times among populations, reaching back to a time when all humans occupied Africa.

Alternate JournalSci Adv
PubMed ID36608127
PubMed Central IDPMC9821931