The Regional Continuity Model of Human Origin: Characteristics, Assertions & Critiques

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  • 0:02 Theory
  • 1:01 Definition of Model & Darwin
  • 1:49 Regional Continuity Model
  • 3:21 Criticisms & Opposing Theories
  • 4:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will seek to explain the Regional Continuity model of human origin. In doing so, it will highlight the theories of Darwin as well as the assertions of the Out of Africa model of origin.


There are some parts of science that are agreed upon by pretty much everybody. For example, no one really questions the idea that trees help oxygenate the Earth. However, there are some parts of science that are heavily disputed. One of the best examples of this is the topic of today's lesson, the Regional Continuity model of human origin. Since I'm pretty sure most of us are rather unacquainted with this model, we're going to take some time to try to break it down to its basic components. However, before we do this, we really should spend some time discussing the concept of theory.

Getting started, a theory is a supposition used to account for a situation or justify a course of action. As I'm sure is familiar to most of us, a theory is studied yet still unproven; it is not solid fact. In fact, many theories are often overturned as new findings shed light on things once thought pretty much set in stone. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of human origin.

Definition of Model & Darwin

With this disclaimer in mind, we'll move onto the Regional Continuity model of human origin. Speaking rather formally, the Regional Continuity model of human origin asserts that modern Homo sapiens developed from different regional populations of archaic Homo sapiens that had previously evolved from regional populations of Homo erectus. That was a mouthful. Let's break it down further.

First, this model has its foundation in the work of Charles Darwin, who theorized that humans advanced over a vast amount of time, moving along the evolutionary ladder from apes to Homo sapiens. Second, Homo sapiens are the species of humans that exist today. Putting it plainly, you and I are Homo sapiens. Third, Homo erectus is theorized to be an extinct species of primitive man, able to walk upright.

Regional Continuity Model

Using these three things, let's simplify the Regional Continuity model of human origin. As a quick reminder, the model states that modern Homo sapiens developed from different regional populations of archaic Homo sapiens that had previously evolved from regional populations of Homo erectus.

Breaking this down, the first part of this, 'modern Homo sapiens developed from different regional populations', simply means that modern humans developed in many different regions, not just one.

The last part, which states that they had 'evolved from regional models of Homo erectus', means that the modern Homo sapiens we're talking about had evolved from the more primitive Homo erectus. Really, really oversimplifying matters, the Regional Continuity model asserts that modern humans evolved from more primitive humans and that this occurred in more than one region of the world. In other words, it theorizes that modern Europeans evolved from primitive Europeans, while modern Chinese evolved from primitive Chinese, and modern Africans evolved from primitive Africans.

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