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2011 Archives

Ancestors may have left Africa earlier than thought

Excerpt

The following is from the January 28, 2011, edition of The Los Angeles Times. SMU Anthropology Professor emeritus Anthony Marks was  part of this research team.

February 7, 2011

By Amina Khan
Los Angeles Times

Some unlikely tools unearthed near the Persian Gulf show that our ancestors may have migrated far out of Africa as early as 125,000 years ago — about 60,000 years earlier than was previously believed.

The finding, published online Thursday in the journal Science, also provides evidence that early humans took a different route during their migration than scientists had assumed: crossing eastward, directly into southern Arabia from East Africa, rather than following the Nile northward to the northwestern edge of Arabia.

It is the "first material evidence" that people ventured well out of Africa so long ago, during the Pleistocene, said study coauthor Anthony Marks, a professor emeritus of anthropology with Southern Methodist University who is based in Santa Fe, N.M. Though evidence had earlier been found of humans in Israel dating to about 100,000 years ago, he added, those people did not appear to travel more than "three days' walk" out of Africa and probably did not venture farther.

The newly discovered tools, by contrast, were found on the eastern coast of Arabia just miles from the northwestern tip of the Indian Ocean — indicating that humans traveled across the Arabian peninsula.

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