Humans Left Africa Far Earlier Than We Thought

Stone tools defy genetic story
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 28, 2011 9:17 AM CST
This undated handout photo provided by the journal Science shows a view of northern Jebel Faya from the north-east.   (AP Photo/Science)
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(Newser) – Stone tools discovered in the Arabian peninsula suggest modern humans may have left Africa 125,000 years ago—some 50,000 years earlier than previously believed. Genetic data points to humans departing Africa around 60,000 to 70,000 years ago, the BBC notes. But the genetic data is "very rough," says a scientist behind the new findings, citing the example of the domestic dog: The animal "was said to be 120,000 years old, and now it is 20,000."

The tools were found at Jebel Faya in what is now the United Arab Emirates, and resemble those found in East Africa from about the same time period; other researchers have discovered tools in India that may have been made by modern humans more than 60,000 years ago. Meanwhile, findings in Israel point to modern humans’ presence there between 119,000 and 81,000 years ago—but these humans may have died out, and their tools aren’t like the ones found in the UAE. It’s possible there were “separate dispersals, one from East Africa into Arabia, and another from North Africa into the Levant,” says an expert.

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