Humans May Have Dispersed Out of Africa Earlier Than Thought

Charles Q. Choi, Live Science, April 21, 2014

Modern humans may have dispersed in more than one wave of migration out of Africa, and they may have done so earlier than scientists had long thought, researchers now say.

Modern humans first arose between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in Africa. But when and how the modern human lineage then dispersed out of Africa has long been controversial.

Scientists have suggested the exodus from Africa started between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. However, stone artifacts dating to at least 100,000 years ago that were recently uncovered in the Arabian Desert suggested that modern humans might have begun their march across the globe earlier than once suspected.

Out of Africa models

To help solve this mystery, Katerina Harvati, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and her colleagues tested four competing out-of-Africa models. Two models involved a single dispersal–one involved a route northward, up the Nile River valley and then eastward across the northern end of the Arabian Peninsula into Asia; the other involved a “beachcomber” route along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula into Asia. Two other models involved multiple dispersals, with both models involving routes along the northern and southern ends of the Arabian Peninsula–one involved connections and gene flow between these routes, and the other did not.

The investigators used these models to predict how much the genes and skull measurements of different groups in Africa, Asia and Australia might have diverged from one another given how separated they were by space and time. Then, the researchers compared these predictions with actual gene and skull data from 10 African, Asian and Australian human populations.

The researchers found that both the genetic and skull data supported a multiple-dispersal model involving several migrations.

“It is really exciting that our results point to the possibility of a multiple-dispersals model of modern humans out of Africa,” Harvati said. “A multiple-dispersals scenario, with earlier 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.


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  • dd121

    We’ve all seen the pictures of full blooded Abos. They don’t even LOOK human to me.

    • IstvanIN

      They do have a more primitive look to them, no doubt about it. The early British settlers must have been VERY lonely to mate with them.

      • Except for South Australia, original white settlement was as a penal colony, so the original transportees would have logically been young, single men.

        • IstvanIN

          I know that, but a full-blooded Abo is pretty darn unattractive. Any port in a storm I suppose.

          • dd121

            I’d rather drown than swim in that tub of water.

          • Zimriel

            These were prisoners. They weren’t exactly the roses of Albion.

          • wildfirexx

            Many of these British prisoners were political prisoners or charged for petty crimes…like stealing a loaf of bread.
            They weren’t all rapists and murderers!

          • Anthony Rawdon

            True, murderers and violent criminals were all executed in those days, as they should be today. The death penalty was applied for dozens of crimes, some of which didn’t involve violence and wouldn’t be considered at all serious by todays standards.

          • dd121

            Also, debt problems. They aren’t criminals like I think of criminals.

          • Like convicted extortionists?

          • dd121

            Michael I don’t know the circumstances of your conviction so I would reserve judgement. Frankly, I like you better than 99.99% of the human race so I’m inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Whitetrashgang

    So 50,000 thousands years separate us from another tribe. What I find very interesting is after 130,000 thousands years the Australian tribe did not evolve at all.Has being up north been that huge of a advantage? Are the starting tribes that different?Its very interesting from a genetic standpoint.

    • Stephen Wordsworth

      Coastal tribes did not bother invading desert tribes as its a harder life and you need secret knowledge to live there. However desert tribes did raid and invade coastal areas so there was a net gene flow from the interior to the coasts. As a result all aboriginal Australians where desert adapted. The brain uses allot of calories and produces allot of heat. So in the Australian interior where food is scarce, its very hot, there is little water, and they did not have the technology to make proper wells, a large brain is a disadvantage. As a result the size of aboriginal brain cases in Australia has declined greatly over the last 10,000 years since the ice age.

  • JSS

    Im honestly starting to wonder if the out of Africa theory is correct at all. It seems that orthodox archeology is trying to prop that theory up more then anything else. Am I seriously supposed to take seriously that Aborigines are descended from a seafaring people? Arabia isn’t the only place that has signs of a human presence over a hundred thousand years ago. No one knows the actual age of the Mayan ruins in South America. When the Spanish asked the locals who built them the response they got was that “the gods built them”. Orthodox archeology simply makes estimates based on whatever politically correct theory is in fashion at the moment and ignores and hides things that don’t conform to those theories. Just look at how the windover bog people and Kenwick man are ignored and suppressed. I don’t trust any orthodox archeology anymore.

    • Whitetrashgang

      In that region part of their folklore is waiting for the return of the great White father as it is in Canada. White people or Asians where there 10,000s of thousands of years ago.

    • dd121

      For years archaeologists fought tooth and nail to defend the Clovis first theory. Namely that the oldest human habitation was 9000 years old. (maybe a bit more). Archaeologist Tom Dillehay, U of Ky, discovered the Monte Verde site in South America that goes back over 20,000. He had an uphill battle convincing the rest of the world of Archaeology that he was right. Careers are built defending the status quo so scientists don’t give up orthodoxy without a fight. In science that’s the rule not the exception.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      This makes a lot of sense. Tens of thousands of years is a long time in human evolution and the Bantu (west African) strain was not apparently the source of non-African humans. Some wander out and go here at this point, others bust out and go there at another point, and TENS OF THOUSANDS of years of adaptation and interbreeding with autochthonous populations (nenderthal and denisovan at least) produce some significantly different hominids from those who remained.

      I don’t believe Whites are descended from Bantus in general. More like Ethiops and more remote subsaharans who’ve been supplanted by the Bantu in many places.

      • Mahound

        That is true. Bantu wouldn’t have been living in the Rift Valley in Kenya (where humans are supposed to have migrated from) 40,000 years ago. The Bantu takeover of much of sub-Saharan Africa happened in the last two thousand years. When you look at pre-Bantu African peoples they seem far more alike Australian aborigines, Indians and South East Asians than Bantu does.

        It’s only because Bantu is so domineering in Sub-Saharan Africa today that we normally equate “African” with Bantu, or “negro”.

        • John R

          So, in other words, you are saying that our ancestors moved out of Africa because too many blacks were moving into the neighborhood? LMAO! Funny, how after 100,000 years so little has changed. I always maintained that technology may change, but fundamental human nature does not. Btw, how eager do you think scientists are going to embrace THAT theory of yours? NOT! They have to keep with the PC program and all theories must say that no races exist and that blacks are the best race. (I know, a contradiction.)

    • Zimriel

      There aren’t any Mayan ruins in South America. As for the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, these have Long Count dates on them. Long Count was kept up by the Maya until, somewhat famously, 2012. So those ruins can be dated to the exact Julian-calendar day.

      • JSS

        Your right, I meant to say Incan. Will edit that. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • Jesse James

      Western academics like to pretend that theories they like are science fact not just science theory. The Chinese academics insist that their people didn’t originate in Africa. I am not a scientist and have only read a few articles but the Chinese claim they have their own trail of humanoid fossils that support their theory.

      • JSS

        “Western academics like to pretend that theories they like are science fact not just science theory”

        That is exactly what happens when science becomes nothing more then politics,

      • Martel

        Any prominent Chinese academics who do so?

    • StillModerated

      Hear, hear! I watched the film Noah and noted that there was not a negroid face in the entire cast. If evolution had come from Africa I’d have figured at least some of them would have been of the diverse persuasion. The movie is science fiction anyway.

    • me

      Agreed. One day, we will find the truth….if they don’t suppress it. Evolution has more holes in it than a loaf of Swiss cheese, and I don’t think or believe in the “out of Africa” ” evolved from monkeys” BS any longer.

      • me

        Here’s something very interesting….DNA tampering by ET? Just a theory….

      • Jon Doe

        lol.. that’s racist!

    • HamletsGhost

      The fact that the “Out of Africa” theory has been pushed so hard for several decades automatically makes me suspicious of it.

  • Aborigines have been in Australia at least 50,000 years – and probably quite a bit longer, and they certainly did not get there overnight by jet airliner.

  • Urbane Neanderthal

    The recent out of Africa theory is a leftist creation to support the theory that the differences between Whites, Asians, and Homo erectus are superficial.

    • According to the authors of “The Humans Who Went Extinct”, even Homo erectus fossils appeared in Africa and Asia at geologically about the same time, so it is entirely possible that this remote ancestor evolved in Asia and migrated the other way.

  • Science of this sort is simply guesswork designed to get a professor a raise and a promotion. Been there, done that, myself. Now if a professor bucked the system and came up with a new theory that contradicts out of Africa, then you’d have a truth seeker because he’d get blasted for it and be pressured to recant.

    • Zimriel

      Well… if we’re part Neanderthal (and part Denisovan, on behalf of our Asian guests), then we have to include the Neanderthals (and Denisovans) into our calculus. And to date there is no consistent notion as to where *they* came from.

      Out Of Africa has a serious asterisk attached to it; two asterisks for the Asians amongst us. I think the truth you want has already been sought, and found.

  • MBlanc46

    Even today, millions of people are trying to get the bleep out of Africa.

  • Truth Teller

    I don’t believe a word of this and the rest of the out of africa propaganda. What about Java man, a modern asian skeleton 700,000 years old? I always look to the source and if it is leftist, it is always lies, lies and more lies.

  • Truth Teller

    There were lots and lots of young women transported to the colonies, almost as many as men due to the strict criminal laws and poverty and no welfare net for 80 percent of the population of England, Scotland and Ireland.

    And men are men, but how could anyone.

  • Luca

    The study of mitochondrial DNA suggests we all originated out of Africa 150,000 – 300,000 years ago. This time period coincides with the ascent of Homo Sapiens. There is no doubt that hunter-gatherers would be following herds and wanderlust until eventually they found themselves “Out of Africa”. Clearly there was not just one migration but numerous ones that occurred over the eons. Those who wandered into more demanding environments, adapted and found intelligence to be a major benefit for survival and prosperity. Others wandered into environments similar to Africa and maintained much of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle as we see in the Aborigines of Australia and New Guinea. The Abo’s could have been basically island hopping short distances on crude rafts following shore lines and keeping themselves in sight of land. We know that during various ice-ages sea levels receded thereby providing even greater access to lands that were once under water.

    Just my opinion.

  • Zimriel

    I was wondering about the Andamanese and the New Guineans as well. The book “Savage Harvest” – I may even have discovered it here – details how some of the Irian Jayans fished a Rockefeller out of the shoals and, I suspect, invented the original oyster rockefeller.

    My point is that these groups of Southeast Asians do not look, or act, anything at all like their closest neighbours – Dravidians, Vietnamese, Javanese. These groups look and act more like Africans – actually, worse than the worst Africans we see in the news. They act like the scum of the Congo; like the people Africans today feel shame for. Cannibalism in Africa today is mainly found in places ravaged by years of civil war. But amongst the Foré and so forth, the locals dined on each other with no second thought until, what, 1970.

    If these vicious tribes are transplanted relics of Africa *as of 130000 BCE*, some light is shed.

    • Anna Tree

      Before seeing your comment, I posted above about the Andamanese too!
      I posted more but here some that seem to support what you wrote:

      “Besides the aboriginal people of Tasmania, the Andamanese were
      the only people who in the 19th century knew no method of making fire.”
      “They are pygmies, and are the only modern people outside Africa with steatopygia.”

      Andamanese are Negritos, several ethnic groups of the Australoid race:
      “Their current populations include 12 Andamanese peoples of the Andaman Islands, six Semang peoples of Malaysia, the Mani of Thailand, and the Aeta, Agta, Ati, and 30 other peoples of the Philippines.
      Genetically, Negritos are the most distant human population from Africans at most loci studied thus far (except for MC1R, which codes for dark skin).”

      • You literally could not find people anywhere who are LESS closely related to black Africans. Their superficial resemblance is due to convergent evolution caused by environmental factors. African aardvarks and South American anteaters look alike but are also unrelated, and for the same reason. African negros and Indo-Pacific negritos don’t even have the same teeth.

        • Anna Tree

          Yes and that’s what I quoted!

          And beside this, I found extraordinary that Andamanese didn’t/don’t know how to make fire!!!

          • They know how to make poisoned arrows. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, helicopters were dispatched by the Indian armed forces to make certain the Andamese were OK, and the helos were pelted with poisoned arrows.

            I suspect that with this level of territorial behavior on the part of the locals that diversity will not be arriving at the Andamans any time soon. How non-inclusive of them! Don’t they know that diversity is especially good for children?

          • HamletsGhost

            It was said that the Australian aborigines didn’t know that sex causes pregnancy. I wonder if anthropologists ever bothered to ask if the Andamanese had a similar cognitive gap.

          • Anna Tree

            Yes I wonder too, but it seems they shoot any visitors. But we know the Trobriand islanders didn’t know:

            It seems that humans first understood that intercourse means babies between 10 and 30 thousand years ago, when they first started breeding animals. But perhaps not all humans: for example the Trobriand Islanders (Australian Arborigines) believed until recently (until Europeans told them) that pregnancy was induced by spirits… Well at least, it is what they told the Europeans. Also it seems that the yams, their principal food, has some contraceptive effects that may explain their misunderstanding.

            From unauthorized dot org anthropology intercourse vs offsprings:

            ” Malinowski worked among the Trobrian Islanders in the 1930’s and found that they still had puzzled out the connection. They believed that ancestor spirits resided in the fog and vapors surrounding their islands and that these spirits would come ashore, invade women through their heads, lodge in their bellies, and eventually be reborn as children.

            Malinowski, no doubt feeling the white man’s burden to educate the savages (as he called them), tried to point out the relationship between sex and childbirth. He asked if they had noticed that no virgins became pregnant. The natives, not being imbued with the Judeo-Christian ethic, of course, responded that they didn’t know any virgins*. Finally, one of the Chiefs settled the argument by declaring that he had recently returned

            home from a two year stay on a neighboring island only to find his wife was pregnant, thus proving that sex and childbirth are not correlated.”

            * From wiki:
            “At seven or eight years of age, Trobriand children begin to play erotic games with each other and imitate adult seductive attitudes. About four or five years later, they begin to pursue sexual partners in earnest. They change partners often. Women are just as assertive and dominant as men in pursuing or refusing a lover. This is not only allowed but encouraged.
            A Trobriand woman is thought to be pregnant when an ancestral spirit enters her body and causes conception. Even after a child is born, it is the mother’s brother, not the father, who presents a harvest of yams to his sister so that her child will be fed with food from its own matrilineage, not the father’s.”

      • Einsatzgrenadier

        The negritos are the original inhabitants of India, until they were either absorbed or displaced by Austro-Asiatic speaking Australoid migrants, who were also eventually absorbed or displaced by invading Caucasoids from central Asia. Now, the only negrito populations of unmixed race live on the Andaman Islands.

    • superlloyd3 coon

      It seems that Andamanese, Negritos, Papua New Guineans and Abos all came from the first southern beachcomber wave. While caucasians and mongoloids came from the second. This explains a lot.

  • Zimriel

    Track the passage. It goes along the southern coast of India. One person making that journey would be Kitty Chow for the first hungry tiger to spot him. Even a good-sized clan would find it difficult (and even if they found someplace safe, a settlement of a few hundreds would get inbred and die if isolated long enough).

    To keep the beasts at bay – and to even get up the courage to attempt the trek – requires a concerted effort. Or, possibly, a major upheaval *forcing* the migrants to attempt the trek. Basically, a “wave”.

  • Rhialto

    It’s amazing that in spite of the different histories and lineages of the many human populations, and in spite of their undeniable physical differences, all have the exact same mental capacities. They only difference in mental performance is due to White male Racism.

    • Heterosexual white male racism. Apparently the gay dudes get a free pass.

    • NickGranite

      The amazing thing is somehow we coerced the West African tribes to fight each other for the right to sell their own people to us.

  • wildfirexx

    If this theory is correct, and the australian aborigines were the first to leave Africa 130,000 years ago, than this flies in the face of recent evolution of europeans. Since the aborigines are considered the same race as modern black africans, they’ve evolved very little from one another.
    Where as Caucasians and Asians who supposedly migrated out of Africa much later have evolved into totally different races.
    They have even recently found ancient human foot prints on a beach in Britain, which they consider to be close to 1 million years old! Go figure!

    • I have been betting on 160,000 years ago.

    • Carlos Geary

      Australian aborigines are not considered the same race as modern Black Africans. Australian aborigines have Neanderthal and Denisova genes. Australian aborigines and Melanesians, are the only group that have individuals with blonde/red hair, blue eyes and dark skin. The blonde/red, and blue eye genes are not the same as the European blonde hair / blue eyes

  • scutum

    I beleive the logic of these researchers is faulty. Nothing human ever came out of Africa.

  • David Ashton

    I suspect that these speculations will be superseded by others in due course.

  • wildfirexx

    that’s because black slaves were financial merchandise worth trading, where as criminals or white slaves were usually considered worthless!

  • David Ashton

    Coon’s “Racial Adaptations” (1982) is well worth reading and available in paperback s/h and on-line pdf. He wrote to me saying that he had avoided brain differences.

  • TienBing

    Why were new versions of humans periodically migrating out of Africa in waves? Was there a factory in the Rift Valley turning out new models very so many years?

    What were the previous models doing – where ever it was they ended up? Were they just hanging out waiting to welcome the new models?

    The Out of Africa scenario would make sense as the original source of humans, but not as the place where evolution continually occurred sending out subsequent waves of new human models to upgrade or replace the previous models. It would be more likely that as the humans migrated and radiated they would adapt and evolve rather than remaining static until being replaced with the next step in evolution to migrate out of Africa.

  • Carlos Geary

    Australian aborigines have Neanderthal and Denisova genes. Australian aborigines and Melanesians, are the only group that have individuals with blonde/red hair, blue eyes and dark skin. The blonde/red, and blue eye genes are not the same as the European blonde hair / blue eyes

  • Martel

    A great summary indeed, my knowledge about this subject is limited but it does seem to make the Out of Africa Theory less likely.

  • Anthony Rawdon

    “Modern humans first arose between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in Africa.”

    If these primitive “out of Africa” humanoids were the first “modern humans” then how are we to describe Europe’s Cromagnon who – as evidenced by their sophisticated cave-art – were the first humans to possess a real awareness of the world about them? “Really modern humans”?

    • Moooochelle

      Australian Aborigines NEVER reached the sophistication level of the European Cromagnon “cave men”. We’re supposed to feel guilty when they drop out of school, though.

  • Neuday

    The problem is that Africa followed us.

  • John R

    This explains what I have been saying on many threads here: That the blacks of the Pacific and Australia are related to the blacks of Africa a lot more than they are to the other races in the vast area of Eurasia in between. It all now fits a broad pattern: A huge northern race of people evolved. They became the ancestors of modern day Asians and Europeans. Both Whites and American Indians are off shoots of this race. Then there is the more backward race of humans (barely) that remained in the warmer climates, and whose descendants are the modern day Australian aborigines, Papuans, and African Negroes. It all makes sense now. It also shows why certain peoples are just unsuited to civilization.

  • John R

    And Europeans didn’t have a harsh environment to adjust to? Haven’t you ever seen the Russian Winter?

    • IstvanIN

      Which is why we can live anywhere from the desert to Antarctica.

  • The British government had been shipping convicts to Georgia before the American Revolution eliminated that option.

  • I think that is exactly right. It is a remote likelihood that human or animal remains would become fossilized at all, so what the fossil record shows is a few frames of a movie with miles of reel footage missing.

  • Of my three best friends Down Under, the third was 1/4 Aboriginal. His white ancestry was Scottish and Russian. He had very fair skin, red hair, blue eyes and freckles. He now also has two PhDs. Yes, with Australiods, it does quickly breed out.

  • Jon

    I believe that Caucasian came from the Cro-Magnon but it is being kept from us. They just showed up in Europe 40k yrs ago and scientists have no idea when their home is. They brought their own culture with them and they spread throughout Europe, North Africa and Large parts of Asia.

    • Grantland

      Cro-Magnon was the result of 50-70k years of Neanderthal predation on timid, gracile homo sapiens in the Levant. That’s where they came from.


  • Jon

    They were petty criminals and poor people because i have a good friend from the land down under also. We talked about the history of Oz and said a lot of petty criminals who stole to feed their families.

  • LHathaway

    I hate so say this, but where is the ‘missing link’, between Africans and everyone else. You see whites and then gradually mongols and then gradually asians and then gradually native american and then SAmericans (not to say that the evolutionary movement didn’t go in the opposite direction). Going the other direction you see whites then persians and arabs then pakisantis then Thais then SAsians the islanders – or the reverse direction. Where is the ‘missing link’ between blacks and every other group? Sure, there are blacks who have interbred with other groups, Domincan Republic and perhaps Philipines and Oceana, but this appear to be more modern day race mixing than it is ‘evolution’ or at least traditional evolution. Where are their near kin?

    No doubt, ‘once they are in the system’, everything turns black leaving no traces of others alive. . .

    lol, that’s how racist they are. .