It is hard to imagine today, but for most of humankind's evolutionary history, multiple humanlike species shared the earth. As recently as 40,000 years ago, Homo sapiens lived alongside several kindred forms, including the Neandertals and tiny Homo floresiensis. For decades scientists have debated exactly how H. sapiens originated and came to be the last human species standing. Thanks in large part to genetic studies in the 1980s, one theory emerged as the clear front-runner. In this view, anatomically modern humans arose in Africa and spread out across the rest of the Old World, completely replacing the existing archaic groups. Exactly how this novel form became the last human species on the planet is mysterious. Perhaps the invaders killed off the natives they encountered, or outcompeted the strangers on their own turf or simply reproduced at a higher rate. However it happened, the newcomers seemed to have eliminated their competitors without interbreeding with them.