Date of humans out of Africa pushed back
London (UPI) Jan 27, 2011
Artifacts unearthed in the United Arab Emirates dating back 100,000 years imply modern humans first left Africa much earlier than believed, a report indicates.
Exactly when humans moved out of Africa has been the source of longstanding debate, though most evidence has pointed to an exodus along the Mediterranean Sea or along the Arabian coast about 60,000 years ago.
But artifacts unearthed by an international team at the Jebel Faya archaeological site suggest humans could have arrived on the Arabian Peninsula as early as 125,000 years ago, a release from the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported Thursday.
"These 'anatomically modern' humans -- like you and me -- had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world," researcher Simon Armitage of the University of London said. "Our findings should stimulate a re-evaluation of the means by which we modern humans became a global species."
The scientists analyzed sea-level and climate-change records for the region during the last interglacial period, about 130,000 years ago, and determined the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which separates Arabia from the Horn of Africa, would have narrowed due to lower sea-levels, allowing safe passage.
The Arabian Peninsula was much wetter then, they say, with greater vegetation cover and a network of lakes and rivers, a landscape that would have allowed early humans access into Arabia and then into the Fertile Crescent and India.
"At Jebel Faya, the ages reveal a fascinating picture in which modern humans migrated out of Africa much earlier than previously thought, helped by global fluctuations in sea-level and climate change in the Arabian Peninsula," Armitage said.
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All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here
Bloomington, IN (SPX) Jan 27, 2011
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