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Ancient DNA - Human Exodus

Ancient DNA Ages First Human Exodus

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Until now, scientists have been unable to trace where and when the first modern humans left Africa, an event that is considered to be one of the most important in human evolution.

However, a team of evolutionary geneticists from the University of Tübingen in Germany have been able to date the start of this journey to less than 95,000 years ago, and possibly, as recently as 62,000 years ago.

The team analysed 10 well-dated fossils, including a medieval man who lived in France 700 years ago; the 4550-year-old iceman; two 14,000-year-old skeletons from the tombs of Oberkassel in Germany; three related, modern humans from 31,000 years ago in Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic; and an early modern human from 40,000 years ago in Tianyuan, China.

The research involved sequencing the DNA from the maternally inherited mitochondria (mtDNA). Their findings fit with the evidence from fossils and stone tools, but are controversial as they contradict the results of recent genetic studies.

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