Early humans left Africa earlier than thought

Afrika, mensenOur ancestors probably went out of Africa as early as 130,000 years ago, new research has proved. The researchers have also found these anatomically modern humans spread from Africa to Asia and Europe in several migratory movements.

Most scientists agree that all humans living today are descended from a common ancestor population which existed 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. Until now the suggestion exists the exodus from Africa started between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. However, recent genetic, archaeological and palaeoanthropological studies challenge this scenario.

The international study which finds an earlier dispersal in several movements  is published by Professor Katerina Harvati and her team from the Institute for Archaeological Sciences at the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, in collaboration with colleagues from Italy and France. The study appears in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists have tested different hypothetical dispersal scenarios, taking into account the geography of potential migration routes, genetic data Afrika, schedels eerste mensenand cranial comparisons. They find that the first wave of migration of early humans out of Africa started earlier than previously thought, taking place as early as the late Middle Pleistocene – with a second dispersal to northern Eurasia following about 50,000 years ago.

“It is really exciting that our results point to the possibility of a multiple-dispersals model of modern humans out of Africa,” Professor Harvati says. “A multiple-dispersals scenario, with early modern humans leaving Africa as early as 130,000 before present, can perhaps account for part of the morphological and genetic patterns that we see among modern human populations.”

The first wave of migrations probably followed the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula as early as 130,000 years ago to Australia and the west Pacific region, while the second wave traveled along the northern route about 50,000 years ago, the researchers said. These waves of migration appear relatively isolated from each other.

“Australian Aborigines, Papuans and Melanesians were relatively isolated after the early dispersal along the southern route,” study lead author Hugo Reyes-Centeno, of the University of Tübingen, said in a statement. He adds that other Asian populations appear to be descended from members of a Afrika, migratieroutes mensenlater migratory movement from Africa to northern Eurasia about 50,000 years ago.

The delay between these waves of migration of early humans could be due to ancient environmental factors, “specifically climatic conditions that might have impeded the crossing of the Arabian Peninsula, such as desert conditions,” says Harvati. “For example, the documentation of severe droughts throughout eastern Africa between about 75,000 to 135,000 years ago could have encouraged a dispersal into other parts of Africa as well as outside of the continent. More favorable conditions within Africa could have limited migrations out of the continent between 75,000 to 50,000 years ago.”

You can find more information on this scientific study on this site

The official press release of the University of Tübingen can be found here

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