The Regional Continuity Hypothesis, also known as the candelabra model, the single species hypothesis, or simply as multiregional evolution is the alternative model of human origins in contradistinction to the Out of Africa Hypothesis.
Whilst the Out of Africa Hypothesis argues that Homo sapiens evolved from a single source in Africa about 100,000-200,000 years ago, the Regional Continuity Hypothesis, advanced by Alan Thorne of the Australian National University and Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan amongst others, argues that Homo sapiens emerged almost simultaneously in various geographical regions around the world, gradually replacing the 'less evolved' Homo species. The recent debate over human origins has largely focused on the argument regarding these two competing models and remains one of the major areas of controversy in paleoanthropology.
The analysis of mitochondrial DNA has tended to support the Out of Africa hypothesis and suggested that all modern humans are descended from a single population of some 10,000 Homo Sapiens located in Africa and hence the alternative name of the Mitochondrial Eve theory. The competing regional-continuity model can also call forth supporting evidence based on the analysis of skull fossil evidence which reveals a pattern of gradual change from ancient to modern humans in different locations across the world.
The Out of Africa hypothesis has tended to be the best supported in recent years and has certainly been more effectively popularised. However recently published research into the mitochondrial DNA of aboriginal Australians has produced results that are not compatible with the Out of Africa hypothesis and led supporters of the Regional Continuity Hypothesis to celebrate the 'death of Eve'.
Mitochondrial DNA sequences in ancient Australians
PNAS, January 16, 2001, vol. 98, no. 2
Book Review Essay on Neanderthal Man
Johan M.G. van der Dennen