Earlier Human Departure from Africa

Earlier Human Departure from Africa


We used to think that modern humans, Homo sapiens, left Africa roughly 120,000-130,000 years ago. But recently, that date has been shifted back by at least 50,000 more years. This means that there were modern humans living outside of Africa at least 177,000 years ago, possibly more. This is huge news, raising further questions about early and modern humans, as well as how and where they lived. Plus, this was all discovered from just one piece of jawbone, with less than ten teeth still attached. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.


The jawbone was found in Israel, at a site called Misliya Cave. Despite this being a recent discovery, the piece of jawbone was actually retrieved in 2002, with suspicions that it belonged to an anatomically modern human. However, it has taken this long to confirm that the of the owner of the jawbone was, in fact, a modern human. This was done using 3D models, created from CT scans, which were compared against other human fossils. Through other scans, tissue samples were assessed, a type only found in modern humans. Different dating techniques were used by three independent labs, placing the remains between 177,000 and 194,000 years old.


This now appears to be one of the first times modern humans left Africa, though it would appear that it was not a complete success, as it is believed that this departure from Africa ended in extinction. This is not the only instance of modern humans leaving Africa to their own detriment – based on various genetics and archaeological studies, it would appear  ‘that present-day people living outside Africa trace their ancestry to an exodus just 60,000 years ago’, reports Pallab Ghosh, a BBC science correspondent.


One of the really exciting things about early human evolution and behaviour is that, despite having taken place thousands of years ago, we are still learning new things. New evidence comes to light, and with the development of technology, we are able to discover more than ever before. There are beliefs that modern humans may have ventured out of Africa even earlier than this, based on a skull found in China, however, this is, at time of writing, unconfirmed. Although it may technically be old news, early human evolution and behaviour are definitely topics to keep an eye on.


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