Ancient Humans Migrated From Africa Earlier Than Previously Thought

In case you ever wondered how modern humans spread across the world after evolving into “homo sapiens,” it has been a common theory that ancient humans migrated from Africa to Asia roughly 60,000 years ago. Their migration process has also been known as the “Out of Africa” model. But now, scientists conducted new research which opposes some of the previously believed findings.

Scientists published a new study last week in the journal Science. Their findings throughout the last decade suggest that homo sapiens, modern humans, came from a couple of migrations out of Africa. According to the research, ancient humans migrated from Africa as early as 120,000 years ago. The findings are backed up by scientists who discovered fossils in southern and central China, and those fossils originate between 70,000 and 120,000 years ago.

However, that doesn’t make the initial Out of Africa theory entirely inaccurate. The study suggests that the early migrants to Asia were seeking out food and better living conditions.

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“The initial dispersals out of Africa prior to 60,000 years ago were likely by small groups of foragers, and at least some of these early dispersals left low-level genetic traces in modern human populations,” Michael Petraglia, one of the coauthors of the study and a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, said in a press release. “A later, major ‘Out of Africa’ event most likely occurred around 60,000 years ago or thereafter.”

Also, new evidence suggests that homo sapiens had been interbreeding with our other relatives such as the Neanderthals, and the more recently discovered relatives the Denisovans, as well as other hominin groups. That supports the thought that modern humans and other groups interacted often after migrating to Asia.

Authors of the study suggest that, in order to discover more about the real origin of humans, there’s more research required to be done in previously unexplored regions of Asia.

“Indeed, what we are seeing in the behavioral record is that the spread of so-called modern human behaviors did not occur in a simple time-transgressive process from west to east,” said Christopher Bae from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, another coauthor of the published study.