This is the place where Homo Sapiens went when they left Africa

Homo sapiens left Africa between 70,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 16:24
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This is the place where Homo Sapiens went when they left Africa

Homo sapiens left Africa between 70,000 and 60,000 years ago. But once outside the African continent, they did not expand throughout Eurasia until 45,000 years ago. Researchers have been wondering for decades where our ancestors were all that time and it seems they have finally found the answer.

Specialists from the universities of Padua and Bologna and Griffith University in Australia have combined genetic, fossil and archaeological evidence to reveal that these nomadic humans concentrated at a fairly specific point during those early stages of migration. The place they chose was the Persian plateau.

This geographical location, as explained by the scientists in an article published in the journal Nature Communications, was fundamental since it served as the nerve center for the first settlements of Homo sapiens outside Africa, from where the waves of population that settled in Africa originated. all of Eurasia.

“Taking advantage of available genomic evidence, we show that populations from the Persian Plateau have an ancestry component that closely matches the population that settled in the Axis out of Africa. “Ecological models show that this region was a suitable habitat that could support a larger population compared to other regions in West Asia,” the experts write.

The genetic component identified in populations from the Persian plateau underlines their lasting differentiation in the area, the researchers indicate, compatible with a human nerve center in the region. The peculiar genetic signature was detected thanks to a new approach that unravels 40,000 years of mixing.

“This connection underlines the importance of the plateau as a key site for early human settlement and subsequent migration,” says Professor Michael Petraglia, director of the Australian Research Center for Human Evolution at Griffith University and co-author of the study.

The work, Petraglia indicates in a statement, provides information on a critical period of human expansion and the differentiation of Eurasian populations. "This region is emerging as a key region, a home away from home, underscoring the need for further archaeological exploration," she says.

The Persian Plateau is a vast elevated area located in southwest Asia, lying east of the Zagros Mountains in modern-day Iran, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Surrounded by the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, the area provided the ideal habitat to create larger populations.

Leonardo Vallini, from the University of Padua, argues that this discovery "clarifies part of the first 20,000 years of the history of Homo sapiens outside Africa, a period in which they interacted with Neanderthal populations. It also provides clues to understand the passage of our species to Europe, East Asia and Oceania.”

This means that the ancestors of all current non-African humans lived at this site for about 20,000 years after leaving Africa. In other words, if we have any genetic heritage from Europe, Asia, America or Oceania, it is likely that some of our ancestors spent a significant part of their time on the Persian plateau.

Professor Luca Pagani, lead author of the work, considers that this "revelation" opens "new doors for archaeological exploration, enriching our understanding of the journey of our species across continents and highlighting the fundamental role of this region in shaping human history."