As we have noted elsewhere in the book, modern human beings show remarkably little genetic variability—"there's more diversity in one social group of fifty-five chimps than in the entire human population," as one authority has put it—and this would explain why. Because we are recently descended from a small founding population, there hasn't been time enough or people enough to provide a source of great variability. It seemed a pretty severe blow to multiregionalism. "After this," a Penn State academic told the Washington Post, "people won't be too concerned about the multiregional theory, which has very little evidence."
But all of this overlooked the more or less infinite capacity for surprise offered by the ancient Mungo people of western New South Wales. In early 2001, Thorne and his colleagues at the Australian National University reported that they had recovered DNA from the oldest of the Mungo specimens—now dated at 62,000 years—and that this DNA proved to be "genetically distinct."