Scientists: Humans Left Africa Earlier Than Previously Thought

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 03:53 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Researchers now say humans may have started leaving Africa earlier than they thought, and did so in more than one migration.

Scientists think humans first came into being between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in Africa, but the question of when and how humans started leaving Africa has been inconclusive, LiveScience reported.

Researchers previously thought human dispersement began between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago, but stone artifacts were recently found in the Arabian Desert that are at least 100,000 years old, which suggests that humans left Africa much earlier than was once thought.

Katerina Harvati, a paleoanthropologist of the University of Tubingen in Germany, and her research team have examined four possible explanations for how migration took place. Two suggest a single dispersal — one that went north up the Nile River valley to the Arabian Peninsula's northern end and into Asia, and another that took the Arabian Peninsula's southern coast into Asia.

The other two models suggested multiple dispersals, which also involve routes along the northern and southern ends of the Arabian Peninsula.

Using genetic and skull data, the researchers think a multiple-dispersal model is supported by their findings.


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