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Prehistoric Human Dispersal (African Origins; 'Out Of Africa' Hypothesis)


Aug 19, 2003
Did ancient river channels guide humans out of Africa?Libya
by Ewen Callaway

The first humans to leave Africa didn't have to struggle over baking sand dunes to find a way out – instead they might have followed a now-buried network of ancient rivers, researchers say.

Chemical analysis of snail fossils suggests that monsoon-fed canals criss-crossed what is now the Sahara desert as modern humans first trekked out of Africa.

Now only visible with satellite radar, the channels flowed intermittently from present-day Libya and Chad to the Mediterranean Sea, says Anne Osborne, a geochemist at the University of Bristol, UK, who led the new study.

Up to five kilometres wide, the channels would have provided a lush route from East Africa – where modern humans first evolved – to the Middle East, a likely second stop on Homo sapiens' world tour.

Archaeological, genetic and palaeontological evidence have pointed to the Nile River Valley and Red Sea as other potential alleys for human migration out of Africa.

Watery clues
To make a case for the channels, Osborne's team excavated snail fossils buried by half a metre of sand from a channel in Libya and compared their chemical makeup to snails excavated from volcanoes hundreds of kilometres away.

By measuring the decay of a radioactive metal locked into the shells, Osborne's team showed that the buried snails must have come from the volcanoes – almost certainly carried there by water.

Other climate records point to a sometimes-green Sahara around this time, and Osborne thinks that seasonal monsoons could have supported a patchwork of life-saving oases across the desert.

Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at London's Natural History Museum, says Osborne's team makes a good climatological case for the importance of the Saharan channels in human migrations.

North African human bones and artefacts closely match those in the Middle East, but, he says, a greener Sahara could have connected already existing populations in both spots to achieve the same effect.

Better proof could come with archaeological finds documenting a human migration across the Sahara, he says. Yet it's a task that few researchers have taken on so far. "It's up to the archaeologists now to go and have a search," Osborne says.

Journal reference: PNAS (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0804472105)

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Out of Africa and straight to the beach
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Anne Osborne, University of Bristol

Chris Stringer, Natural History Museum
www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/staff-d ... -5508.html
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Did warfare drive out-of-Africa migration?

19 comments at link so far.

Did warfare drive out-of-Africa migration?
by Ewen Callaway

Roving bands of men might have waged history's first traceable war against the ancestors of all Europeans, Asians and other non-Africans, some 60,000 years ago.

A new analysis of DNA variations in contemporary humans indicates that non-Africans descend from a population that contained far more males than females.

This is potential evidence for conquests of the first people who embarked out of Africa, says Alon Keinan, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. It might be that they killed some males, stole the females, and kept on moving, he says.

A steady trickle of peaceful wandering men could have accomplished the same genetic effect – but if prehistoric migrations worked anything like Viking conquests, or the discovery of the New World, male migrants did not go looking for peace and love.

Keinan's theory rests on comparisons of more than 100,000 genetic differences, peppered across the genomes of African, Asian and European men.

Ancient war?
In populations where males pair equally with females, on average they will have three X-chromosomes for every four of a non-sex chromosome called an autosome. This is because women have two Xs and men just one.

If more men than women pass on their DNA over time, the female contribution to the gene pool falls, resulting in less X-chromosomes. "You have many more grandfathers than grandmothers," Keinan says.

This skew exists in peoples from all parts of the world except Africa, Keinan and colleague David Reich have found.

The ancestors of Europeans and Asians left Africa sometime between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago. Keinan's team speculate that males from Africa, who may have settled in the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, or elsewhere, attacked the first "out of Africa" population.

Escape route
"It sounds plausible to me," says Martin Richards, a geneticist who studies human history at the University of Leeds, UK.

"We don't know the route people used to get out of Africa," says Chris Stringer, an anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London. But he thinks the Nile valley is a strong contender for the path of the first migrants – and perhaps their later adversaries.

However, the chance of finding archaeological evidence for these migrants is slim. "You're looking for a population that was there only a short period of time, perhaps only 10 generations, so the physical impact of that population in that environment wouldn't be enough to detect," Reich says.

Mating customs
Their analysis also challenges a study published earlier this year, which found that all humans descend from fewer numbers of males than females. The researchers suggested that polygyny, where few men procreate with many women, accounts for this result.

"It's possible, in principle, that both are true in some level," says Reich.

Polygyny that occurred over the last million years of human evolution could have left an imprint in our genomes, says Michael Hammer, a geneticist at the University of Arizona, who led that study.

Reich and Keinan, on the other hand, focused their analysis on the period when anatomically modern humans left Africa.

"We'll have to figure out this issue in future work," Reich says.

Journal reference: Nature Genetics (DOI: 10.1038/ng.303)

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There may be an appropriate topic for this. Mods please move if so. Thanks.

Early human fossils unearthed in Ukraine
By Jennifer Carpenter
Science reporter, BBC News

Teeth were among the ancient human remains found at the cave site
Continue reading the main story
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Ancient remains uncovered in Ukraine represent some of the oldest evidence of modern people in Europe, experts have claimed.

Archaeologists found human bones and teeth, tools, ivory ornaments and animal remains at the Buran-Kaya cave site.

The 32,000-year-old fossils bear cut marks suggesting they were defleshed as part of a post-mortem ritual.

Details have been published in the journal PLoS One.

Archaeologist Dr Alexander Yanevich from the National Ukrainian Academy of Science in Kiev discovered the four Buran-Kaya caves in the Crimean mountains in 1991.

Since then, roughly two hundred human bone fragments have been unearthed at the site.

Among the shards of human bones and teeth, archaeologists have found ornaments fashioned from ivory, along with the abundant remains of animals.

The artefacts made by humans at the site allowed archaeologists to tie the ancient people to a cultural tradition known as the Gravettian.

This culture came to span the entire European continent and is named after the site of La Gravette in France, where this stone age culture was first studied.

Researchers were able to directly date the human fossils using radiocarbon techniques. The shape and form of the remains told the scientists they were dealing with modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens).

Eastern promise
One thing that intrigued researchers was the scarcity of human long bones (bones from the limbs) in the caves.

The site yielded countless limb bones from antelope, foxes and hares.

Remains at the site bear cut marks where stone tools were used to remove flesh
But the human remains consisted of vertebrae, teeth and skull bones no larger than 12cm.

What is more, the positions of cut marks found on the human fragments were distinct from those found on the animal bones.

And while the bone marrow had been removed from butchered animals, it had been left alone in the case of the human remains at the site, explained co-author Sandrine Prat from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris.

She suspects this demonstrates that human bones were processed differently from those of animals. Human flesh was removed as part of ritual "cleaning", not to be eaten.

Defining culture
Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

These people had knives, lightweight tools, open air camps, they used mammoth bones to make tents”

Professor Clive Finlayson
Director, Gibraltar Museum
The finds offer anthropologists a glimpse into a very early and important human culture, said Professor Clive Finlayson, an evolutionary ecologist and director of the Gibraltar Museum.

"Gravettian culture is the culture that defines modern humans.

"These people had knives, lightweight tools, open air camps, they used mammoth bones to make tents," he said, adding that this was the earliest example of the Gravettian cultural tradition.

Professor Finlayson said that uncovering evidence of this culture in Ukraine gave weight to the idea that early modern people spread into Europe from the Russian plains, not north through the Balkans from the Middle East.

"What has excited me is that we have found evidence of humans where I would expect them to be, exploiting foods that I would expect them to be exploiting," Professor Finlayson told BBC News.
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Arabian Artifacts May Rewrite 'Out of Africa' Theory
LiveScience.comBy Charles Choi | LiveScience.com – 17 hrs ago

Newfound stone artifacts suggest humankind left Africa traveling through the Arabian Peninsula instead of hugging its coasts, as long thought, researchers say.

Modern humans first arose about 200,000 years ago in Africa. When and how our lineage then dispersed has long proven controversial, but geneticists have suggested this exodus started between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. The currently accepted theory is that the exodus from Africa traced Arabia's shores, rather than passing through its now-arid interior.

However, stone artifacts at least 100,000 years old from the Arabian Desert, revealed in January 2011, hinted that modern humans might have begun our march across the globe earlier than once suspected.

Now, more-than-100 newly discovered sites in the Sultanate of Oman apparently confirm that modern humans left Africa through Arabia long before genetic evidence suggests. Oddly, these sites are located far inland, away from the coasts.

"After a decade of searching in southern Arabia for some clue that might help us understand early human expansion, at long last we've found the smoking gun of their exit from Africa," said lead researcher Jeffrey Rose, a paleolithic archaeologist at the University of Birmingham in England. "What makes this so exciting is that the answer is a scenario almost never considered."

Arabian artifacts

The international team of archaeologists and geologists made their discovery in the Dhofar Mountains of southern Oman, nestled in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

"The coastal expansion hypothesis looks reasonable on paper, but there is simply no archaeological evidence to back it up," said researcher Anthony Marks of Southern Methodist University, referring to the fact that an exodus by the coast, where one has access to resources such as seafood, might make more sense than tramping across the desert..

On the last day of the research team's 2010 field season, the scientists went to the final place on their list, a site on a hot, windy, dry plateau near a river channel that was strewn with stone artifacts. Such artifacts are common in Arabia, but until now the ones seen were usually relatively young in age. Upon closer examination, Rose recalled asking, "Oh my God, these are Nubians — what the heck are these doing here?"

The 100-to-200 artifacts they found there were of a style dubbed Nubian Middle Stone Age, well-known throughout the Nile Valley, where they date back about 74,000-to-128,000 years. Scientists think ancient craftsmen would have shaped the artifacts by striking flakes off flint, leading to distinctive triangular pieces. This is the first time such artifacts have been found outside of Africa.

Subsequent field work turned up dozens of sites with similar artifacts. Using a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence dating, which measures the minute amount of light long-buried objects can emit, to see how long they have been interred, the researchers estimate the artifacts are about 106,000 years old, exactly what one might expect from Nubian Middle Stone Age artifacts and far earlier than conventional dates for the exodus from Africa.

"It's all just incredibly exciting," Rose said.

Arabian spring?

Finding so much evidence of life in what is now a relatively barren desert supports the importance of field work, according to the researchers.

"Here we have an example of the disconnect between theoretical models versus real evidence on the ground," Marks said.

However, when these artifacts were made, instead of being desolate, Arabia was very wet, with copious rain falling across the peninsula, transforming its barren deserts to fertile, sprawling grasslands with lots of animals to hunt, the researchers explained.

"For a while, South Arabia became a verdant paradise rich in resources — large game, plentiful fresh water, and high-quality flint with which to make stone tools," Rose said.

Instead of hugging the coast, early modern humans might therefore have spread from Africa into Arabia along river networks that would've acted like today's highways, researchers suggested. There would have been plenty of large game present, such as gazelles, antelopes and ibexes, which would have been appealing to early modern humans used to hunting on the savannas of Africa.

"The genetic signature that we've seen so far of an exodus 70,000 years ago might not be out of Africa, but out of Arabia," Rose told LiveScience.

So far the researchers have not discovered the remains of humans or any other animals at the site. Could these tools have been made by now-extinct human lineages such as Neanderthals that left Africa before modern humans did? Not likely, Rose said, as all the Nubian Middle Stone Age tools seen in Africa are associated with our ancestors. [Photos: Our Closest Human Ancestor]

It remains a mystery as to how early modern humans from Africa crossed the Red Sea, since they did not appear to enter the Arabian Peninsula from the north, through the Sinai Peninsula, Rose explained. "Back then, there was no land bridge in the south of Arabia, but the sea level might not have been that low," he said. Archaeologists will have to continue combing the deserts of southern Arabia for more of what the researchers called a "trail of stone breadcrumbs."

The scientists detailed their findings online Nov. 30 in the journal PLoS ONE.
There may be a more appropriate thread for this but I can't find it just now.

In the late 1970s, anthropologists exploring a cave on the rugged coast of southern Greece found two mysterious hominin skull fossils.

Time had left them fragmented and distorted, and the jumbled stratigraphy of the cave made them hard to date. For decades, the fossils sat on a shelf, their identity unknown. Now, a state-of-the-art analysis of their shape together with new dates suggest one skull might represent our own species, living in Greece more than 200,000 years ago. The findings, reported in Nature this week, would make this the oldest known Homo sapiens fossil found in Europe, by at least 150,000 years.

If so, H. sapiens's first forays out of its African cradle likely happened earlier and extended much farther than most paleoanthropologists thought, into territory dominated by Neanderthals, our extinct cousins. "And then [H. sapiens] disappeared" from Europe, says Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at the City University of New York in New York City, until a later wave successfully spread across the continent about 50,000 years ago. But because the evidence is no more than a piece from the back of the skull, some researchers aren't sure the fossil can be definitively identified as H. sapiens. And others question the old date.

For archival purposes, here's the primary text from the linked 2014 article:
Out of Africa earlier than expected: Modern man first arrived in Europe 130,000 years ago, researchers claim

Modern man left Africa earlier than previously thought - and in multiple waves, new research has found.

Researchers say anatomically modern humans spread from Africa to Asia and Europe in several migratory movements, beginning 130,000 years ago.

They also found that there were several waves of migration, rather than the one previously believed to have occurred.

A team of researchers led by the University of Tübingen’s Professor Katerina Harvati analysed skull shapes to show that anatomically modern humans spread from Africa to Asia and Europe in several migratory movements.

The first ancestors of today’s non-African peoples probably took a southern route through the Arabian Peninsula as early as 130,000 years ago, the researchers found.

Scientists have previously suggested the exodus from Africa started between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago, although 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.

Most scientists agree that all humans living today are descended from a common ancestor population which existed 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa.

The first ancestors of today’s non-African peoples probably took a southern route through the Arabian Peninsula as early as 130,000 years ago, the researchers found.

They followed a coastal route through the Arabian Peninsula to Australia and the west Pacific region.
Researchers' interpretation of evidence from this newly published study supports two new twists in the Out of Africa migration history:

(1) Anatomically modern humans migrated out of northern Africa even earlier than previously suspected; and

(2) The newly analyzed palaeontological evidence, combined with genomic data, indicates there were multiple modern human migrations out of Africa - some of which failed or otherwise resulted in no persistent presence elsewhere than Africa.
Modern Humans Failed in Early Attempt to Migrate Out of Africa, Old Skull Shows

A prehistoric, broken skull is revealing the secrets of ancient humans, divulging that early modern humans left Africa much earlier than previously thought, a new study finds.

The skull, found in Eurasia and dating back 210,000 years, is the oldest modern human bone that anthropologists have discovered outside Africa, the researchers said.

This skull, however, had an unusual neighbor: a 170,000-year-old, possibly Neanderthal skull that was found resting next to it, in a cave in southern Greece. Given that the Neanderthal skull is a solid 40,000 years younger than the modern human skull, it appears that this particular human's early dispersal out of Africa failed. There are no living descendants of this enigmatic human alive today, and this person's group was replaced by Neanderthals, who later lived in that very same cave, the researchers said. ...

"We know from the genetic evidence that all humans that are alive today outside of Africa can trace their ancestry to the major dispersal out of Africa that happened between 70[,000] and 50,000 years before present," study lead researcher Katerina Harvati, a professor of paleoanthropology at the University of Tübingen in Germany, told reporters at a news conference.

Other earlier modern-human dispersals out of Africa have been documented at sites in Israel, including one based on the discovery of a 194,000- to 177,000-year-old modern human jaw from Misliya Cave and others tied to early human fossils dated to about 130,000 to 90,000 years ago at the Skhul and Qafzeh caves. But "we think that these early migrants did not actually contribute to modern humans living outside of Africa today, but rather died out and were probably locally replaced by Neanderthals," Harvati said. "We hypothesize this is a similar situation with the Apidima 1 [the newly dated modern human skull] population." ...

FULL STORY (With Photos): https://www.livescience.com/65906-oldest-modern-human-skull-eurasia.html
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New interesting new analysis.

Central Africa is too hot and humid for ancient DNA to survive—or so researchers thought.

But now the bones of four children buried thousands of years ago in a rock shelter in the grasslands of Cameroon have yielded enough DNA for scientists to analyze. It’s the first ancient DNA from humans in the region, and as the team reports today in Nature, it holds multiple surprises. For one, the area today is the homeland of Bantu speakers, the majority group in western and Central Africa. But the children turned out to be most closely related to hunter-gatherers such as the Baka and Aka—groups traditionally known as “pygmies”—who today live at least 500 kilometers away in the rainforests of western Central Africa.

“In the supposed cradle of Bantu languages and, therefore, Bantu people, these people are basically ‘pygmy’ hunter-gatherers,” says Lluís Quintana-Murci, a population geneticist at the Pasteur Institute and CNRS, the French national research agency, who was not part of the new study. He and others have long suspected that these groups had a larger range before the Bantu population exploded 3000 years ago. The second big surprise came when the team compared the children’s DNA to other genetic data from Africa and found hints that the Baka, Aka, and other Central African hunter-gatherers belong to one of the most ancient lineages of modern humans, with roots going back 250,000 years.

In the new study, geneticists and archaeologists took samples from the DNA-rich inner ear bones of the four children, who were buried 3000 and 8000 years ago at the famous archaeological site of Shum Laka. ..

Possible evidence of another early wave of migration from Africa.

When Mount Toba erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumatra some 74,000 years ago, ash fell like snow on the Indian subcontinent, including on human toolmakers who had shaped stone flakes into sharp cutting instruments.

Debate over the identity of these craftspeople—and whether a cataclysmic “volcanic winter” wiped them out—has raged for decades, because it has implications for when our species first left Africa. A new study of these people’s tools suggests they not only survived the eruption, but thrived for another 50,000 years. Others, however, say there isn’t enough evidence that the tools were made by Homo sapiens at all.

The researchers may have found “an early wave of modern humans … or it might be another kind of early human altogether,” says Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, who was not involved with the work.

Some scientists have argued that the massive ash cloud from the Mount Toba eruption would have partially blotted out the Sun, sending global temperatures plummeting and threatening the survival of numerous species, including our own.

In 2007, though, anthropologists found evidence of stone tools in southern India that dated to before and after the eruption, suggesting the event may not have been as devastating as previously thought. But critics said it wasn’t clear whether the tools were made by our species or another archaic human such as Neanderthals or Denisovans.

In the new study, the team behind the 2007 study returned to the subcontinent, to a site known as Dhaba in central India on the banks of the Son River. The researchers uncovered thousands of stone flake tools used for cutting and scraping.

Possible evidence of another early wave of migration from Africa.
When Mount Toba erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumatra some 74,000 years ago, ash fell like snow on the Indian subcontinent, including on human toolmakers who had shaped stone flakes into sharp cutting instruments. ...

See Also:

Though reporting the same research, this later article includes some additional points and an illustrative human migration map.
Newly published research suggests modern humans arrived in Neanderthal-occupied European regions earlier, and the overlap between the two populations lasted longer, than previously suspected.
Longer overlap for modern humans and Neanderthals

Modern humans began to edge out the Neanderthals in Europe earlier than previously thought, a new study shows.
Tests on remains from a cave in northern Bulgaria suggest Homo sapiens was there as early as 46,000 years ago.

This is up to 2,000 years older than evidence from Italy and the UK.

Around this time, Europe was populated by sparse groups of Neanderthals - a distinct type of human that vanished shortly after modern humans appeared on the scene.

There's considerable debate about the length of time that modern humans overlapped with Neanderthals in Europe and other parts of Eurasia.

This has implications for the nature of contact between the two groups - and perhaps clues to why Neanderthals went extinct.

Two new scientific papers ... describe the finds at Bacho Kiro cave. ...

Prof Chris Stringer, research leader for human evolution at the Natural History Museum in London, who was not involved with the latest study, said: "In my view, this is the oldest and strongest published evidence for an IUP (Initial Upper Palaeolithic) presence of H. sapiens in Europe, several millennia before the Neanderthals disappeared." ...

At the least, the new finds suggest there was around 5,000 years of chronological overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans in Europe. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52614870
Here are the bibliographic particulars and DOI links for the newly published research cited above.

Fewlass, H., Talamo, S., Wacker, L. et al. A 14C chronology for the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition at Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria. Nat Ecol Evol (2020).

Hublin, J., Sirakov, N., Aldeias, V. et al. Initial Upper Palaeolithic Homo sapiens from Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria. Nature (2020).
More on the Bacho Kiro cave with an emphasis on the homo sapiens remains.

A tooth and six bone fragments found in a Bulgarian cave are the oldest directly dated remains of Homo sapiens in Europe, scientists say.

Until now, most of the earliest fossils of humans on the continent ranged in age from around 45,000 to 41,500 years old. But those ages are based on dates for sediment and artifacts associated with the fossils, not the fossils themselves. The newfound remains date to between roughly 46,000 and 44,000 years ago, researchers report May 11 in Nature.

A previous report of the earliest human fossil in Europe centered on a skull fragment from what’s now Greece (SN: 7/10/19). That fossil may date to at least 210,000 years ago, which would make it the oldest by far, but the dating and species identification of that find are controversial.

The new discoveries at Bulgaria’s Bacho Kiro Cave have added evidence for a scenario in which African H. sapiens reached the Middle East approximately 50,000 years ago (SN: 1/28/15) and then rapidly dispersed into Europe (SN: 11/2/11) and Central Asia (SN: 10/22/14), the scientists conclude.

Newly published research based on analyses from eastern European sites indicates modern humans interbred with Neanderthals more often, and possibly later, than previously believed. This research also demonstrates a closer genetic affinity between the earliest modern humans to enter Europe and later modern humans in eastern Asia (rather than western Europe) - suggesting these sites represent a previously unsuspected separate wave of modern human migration into Europe.
DNA Reveals Humans Interbred With Neanderthals a Surprisingly Short Time Ago

Genetic sequencing of human remains dating back 45,000 years has revealed a previously unknown migration into Europe and showed intermixing with Neanderthals in that period was more common than previously thought. ...

The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains - including a whole tooth and bone fragments - found in a cave in Bulgaria last year.

Genetic sequencing found the remains came from individuals who were more closely linked to present-day populations in East Asia and the Americas than populations in Europe.

"This indicates that they belonged to a modern human migration into Europe that was not previously known from the genetic record," the research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, said.

It also "provides evidence that there was at least some continuity between the earliest modern humans in Europe and later people in Eurasia", the study added. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/a-previously-unknown-human-migration-was-just-revealed-in-genetic-data

See Also: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/europe-oldest-known-humans-mated-neandertals-dna-fossils
Here are the bibliographic details and abstract from the newly published research report. The full report is accessible at the link below.

Hajdinjak, M., Mafessoni, F., Skov, L. et al.
Initial Upper Palaeolithic humans in Europe had recent Neanderthal ancestry.
Nature 592, 253–257 (2021).

Modern humans appeared in Europe by at least 45,000 years ago ..., but the extent of their interactions with Neanderthals, who disappeared by about 40,000 years ago, and their relationship to the broader expansion of modern humans outside Africa are poorly understood. Here we present genome-wide data from three individuals dated to between 45,930 and 42,580 years ago from Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria ... They are the earliest Late Pleistocene modern humans known to have been recovered in Europe so far, and were found in association with an Initial Upper Palaeolithic artefact assemblage. Unlike two previously studied individuals of similar ages from Romania and Siberia who did not contribute detectably to later populations, these individuals are more closely related to present-day and ancient populations in East Asia and the Americas than to later west Eurasian populations. This indicates that they belonged to a modern human migration into Europe that was not previously known from the genetic record, and provides evidence that there was at least some continuity between the earliest modern humans in Europe and later people in Eurasia. Moreover, we find that all three individuals had Neanderthal ancestors a few generations back in their family history, confirming that the first European modern humans mixed with Neanderthals and suggesting that such mixing could have been common.

FULL REPORT: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03335-3
The lure of the wetlands.

If you know what to look for in dappled satellite images of desert—slight depressions, subtle color shifts—the dried-up ghosts of prehistoric lakes pop out against the sand fields of the Arabian Peninsula.

Eight years ago, one ancient multihued lake in the Nefud Desert caught the eye of researchers. When scientists excavated its ancient shorelines, a new study reports, they found thousands of stone tools—and evidence that multiple waves of Homo sapiens and their relatives have been migrating across the Arabian interior for at least the past 400,000 years.

The results bolster the idea that the periodic greening of this typically harsh desert played a pivotal role in humans’ dispersals out of Africa—and provide the best evidence yet that different groups of humans pulsed out of the continent through the Sinai Peninsula, says Jessica Thompson, a paleoanthropologist at Yale University who wasn’t involved with the study. “Where there are lakes, there will be people,” she says. “They find their way there.”

Today, the sparsely populated Nefud is filled with wind-whipped sand dunes and spindly, drought-tolerant shrubs. But past excavations and paleoclimate models have revealed that over the past half-million years, brief periods of wetter, warmer conditions dumped seasonal rainfall over the region, turning its low basins into lakes and its ditches into rivers. In short order, the harsh desert became a lush grassland—a “green Arabia”—only to wither back to sand when arid weather inevitably returned.

In 2013, remote imaging specialists keyed in on several ancient lakebeds in the western Nefud in northern Saudi Arabia that appeared unusually colorful in satellite images. Archaeologist Michael Petraglia at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (SHH) suspected its marbled bands of sediment reflected several periods of draining and refilling.

He and colleagues piled into four-wheel-drive vehicles and headed to a site known as Khall Amayshan 4, huddled between large dunes. “Once we got there, there were just stone tools everywhere, so we knew straight away this was an amazing site,” says archaeologist Huw Groucutt, Petraglia’s colleague at SHH. ...

The Long March Out of Africa and Multi-regionalism.

Fossils and ancient DNA paint a vibrant picture of human origins

A century of science has begun to explain how and where Homo sapiens and our kin evolved

In The Descent of Man, published in 1871, Charles Darwin hypothesized that our ancestors came from Africa. He pointed out that among all animals, the African apes — gorillas and chimpanzees — were the most similar to humans. But he had little fossil evidence. The few known human fossils had been found in Europe, and those that trickled in over the next 50 years came from Europe and from Asia.
Had Darwin picked the wrong continent?

Finally, in 1924, a fortuitous find supported Darwin’s speculation. Among the debris at a limestone quarry in South Africa, miners recovered the fossilized skull of a toddler. Based on the child’s blend of humanlike and apelike features, an anatomist determined that the fossil was what was then popularly known as a “missing link.” It was the most apelike fossil yet found of a hominid — that is, a member of the family Hominidae, which includes modern humans and all our close, extinct relatives.

That fossil wasn’t enough to confirm Africa as our homeland. Since that discovery, paleoanthropologists have amassed many thousands of fossils, and the evidence over and over again has pointed to Africa as our place of origin. Genetic studies reinforce that story. African apes are indeed our closest living relatives, with chimpanzees more closely related to us than to gorillas. In fact, many scientists now include great apes in the hominid family, using the narrower term “hominin” to refer to humans and our extinct cousins.

In a field with a reputation for bitter feuds and rivalries, the notion of humankind’s African origins unifies human evolution researchers. “I think everybody agrees and understands that Africa was very pivotal in the evolution of our species,” says Charles Musiba, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Colorado Denver.

Paleoanthropologists have sketched a rough timeline of how that evolution played out. Sometime between 9 million and 6 million years ago, the first hominins evolved. Walking upright on two legs distinguished our ancestors from other apes; our ancestors also had smaller canine teeth, perhaps a sign of less aggression and a change in social interactions. Between about 3.5 million and 3 million years ago, humankind’s forerunners ventured beyond wooded areas. Africa was growing drier, and grasslands spread across the continent. Hominins were also crafting stone tools by this time. The human genus, Homo, arrived between 2.5 million and 2 million years ago, maybe earlier, with larger brains than their predecessors. By at least 2 million years ago, Homo members started traveling from Africa to Eurasia. By about 300,000 years ago, Homo sapiens, our species, emerged. ...

Newly reported discoveries from southern France indicate modern humans were living in western Europe 12,000 years earlier than previously believed. This in turn suggests modern humans overlapped with Neanderthals in western Europe for thousands of years - undermining the notion that modern humans' arrival resulted in relatively rapid Neanderthal extinction.
Neanderthal extinction not caused by brutal wipe out

New fossils are challenging ideas that modern humans wiped out Neanderthals soon after arriving from Africa.

A discovery of a child's tooth and stone tools in a cave in southern France suggests Homo sapiens was in western Europe about 54,000 years ago.

That is several thousands of years earlier than previously thought, indicating that the two species could have coexisted for long periods. ...

The finds were discovered in a cave, known as Grotte Mandrin in the Rhone Valley ...

"We are now able to demonstrate that Homo sapiens arrived 12,000 years before we expected, and this population was then replaced after that by other Neanderthal populations. And this literally rewrites all our books of history." ...

The evidence suggests that this early group of humans lived at the site for a relatively brief period, of perhaps about 2,000 years after which the site was unoccupied. The Neanderthals then return, occupying the site for several more thousand years, until modern humans come back about 44,000 years ago. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-60305218
Researchers' interpretation of evidence from this newly published study supports two new twists in the Out of Africa migration history: ...
(2) The newly analyzed palaeontological evidence, combined with genomic data, indicates there were multiple modern human migrations out of Africa - some of which failed or otherwise resulted in no persistent presence elsewhere than Africa.

Newly discovered evidence in Israel suggests earlier human ancestors similarly migrated out of Africa in waves rather than all at once.
1.5 million-year-old fossil rewrites 'Out of Africa' theory

A 1.5 million-year-old vertebra from an extinct human species unearthed in Israel suggests that ancient humans may have migrated from Africa in multiple waves, a new study finds.

Although modern humans, Homo sapiens, are now the only surviving members of the human family tree, other human species once roamed Earth. Prior work revealed that long before modern humans made their way out of Africa as early as about 270,000 years ago, now-extinct human species had already migrated from Africa to Eurasia by at least 1.8 million years ago, during the early parts of the Pleistocene (2.6 million to 11,700 years ago), the epoch that included the last ice age.

Scientists had debated whether ancient humans dispersed from Africa in a one-time event or in multiple waves. Now, researchers have discovered the latter scenario is more likely, based on a newly analyzed vertebra from an unknown human species. At about 1.5 million years old, the vertebra is the oldest evidence yet of ancient humans in Israel ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/ancient-human-vertebra-found-israel
Newly discovered evidence in Israel suggests earlier human ancestors similarly migrated out of Africa in waves rather than all at once.

FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/ancient-human-vertebra-found-israel
Slightly confusing in that they said developmentally the bone suggested a 6-12 year old who must have stood as tall as a modern 11-17 year old. So you have a potential 12 year old who might have been as tall as a... 12 year old?

Still, pretty cool finding.
Sort of related but the Mods may find a more appropriate Thread.

Ancient Africans in search of mates traded long-distance travels for regional connections starting about 20,000 years ago, an analysis of ancient and modern DNA suggests.

That shift occurred after treks across much of Africa to find breeding partners had been the norm starting at least 50,000 years ago, the same analysis shows. These new findings — helped by several examples of the oldest human DNA from Africa isolated to date — offer the first genetic support for a previously suspected change in mating patterns around that time.

These newly identified, long-distance movements of ancient human groups help explain archaeological discoveries of common types of stone and bone toolmaking and other cultural behaviors that increasingly appeared across much of Africa beginning about 50,000 years ago, evolutionary geneticist Mark Lipson of Harvard Medical School and colleagues report February 23 in Nature. ...

Newly published research into evidence from the Bacho Kiro Cave complex in Bulgaria further complicates the picture of human dispersal out of Africa and into both Europe and Asia.
A Surprise Cave Finding Has Once Again Upended Our Story of Humans Leaving Africa

... If we retrace our footsteps from modern times through the Stone Age and beyond, we'll inevitably find a moment when a bunch of Homo sapiens took a pivotal step out of Africa onto what we now think of as Eurasian soil.

Earlier, more distant cousins had ventured out numerous times already, settling for a time before dying out. This time, it would all be different. This migration of modern humans stuck, eventually seeding a cultural revolution that would forever change our planet in just a few short millennia.

While the outcome of this monumental journey is now obvious, the paths taken and countless lost branches can only be pieced together from scant surviving artifacts and a legacy of genetic mingling.

The scattering of human bones and stone implements sifted from the sediment of Bacho Kiro Cave in central Bulgaria is just the kind of evidence archaeologists dream of. Uncovered in 2015, they have since been dated to around 45,000 years, officially making them the oldest Upper Paleolithic hominin bones ever found in Europe.

By taking archaeological records into account, we can tell they had descended from a larger community on a 15,000-year-long hiatus in their travels east. If we knew little else about them, we might conclude this people represent some kind of stepping stone between a future in Asia and a past set in Europe – a central hub on Africa's doorstep from which we expanded and settled ever further abroad.

The genetic evidence preserved in three of those bodies, however, doesn't match up quite so neatly with this simple scenario.

Last year, research led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany concluded the individuals were "more closely related to present-day and ancient populations in East Asia and the Americas than to later west Eurasian populations."

Finding closer familial ties with modern and ancient Asian populations than with modern European people introduces some challenging questions regarding the way this ancient hub of humanity might have branched into the east and west. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/surpri...ts-rethink-on-how-humans-spread-out-of-africa
Evidence from multiple burials distributed over thousands of years indicates early human migration patterns through east Asia were complex and may have moved in multiple directions.
3 Ancient Burials Hint at Multiple Migrations of Ancient Humans Through Southeast Asia

Three skeletons uncovered in a rock shelter adorned with red pigment rock art reveal burial rituals of early humans who followed well-trodden paths through Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands, albeit thousands of years apart.

Aside from deepening our understanding of the evolution and diversification of burial practices, the finds – from Alor Island in southeast Indonesia – enrich past discoveries that previously provided some clues about patterns of migration of early humans making their way southward.

"Burials are a unique cultural manifestation to investigate waves of migration through the terminal Pleistocene to the Holocene period in Southeast Asia," says archaeologist Sofia Samper-Carro of the Australian National University.

From the positioning and treatment of bodies to the presence or absence of ornamental grave goods, Southeast Asian burial sites "offer a panoply of social expressions related to the deposition of the deceased," Samper-Carro and colleagues write in their paper.

Past research casts South East Asia as a melting pot of ancient humans who crossed paths and (possibly) interbred in a landscape that was vastly different during the Pleistocene, the last ice age.

Traversing islands, oceans, and now-drowned land bridges took skilled mariners further southward until they crossed through Wallacea and voyaged to Australia, which, at the time, was attached to New Guinea as part of a much larger land mass called Sahul.

With so many possible routes and scant archaeological evidence, it has been tricky to pinpoint which way and when people made those fateful migrations.
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/3-anci...ions-of-ancient-humans-through-southeast-asia
PUBLISHED RESEARCH REPORT: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0267635
A well traveled road.

Today, Jordan Rift Valley east of the Mediterranean is challengingly parched, bare and uneven in its terrain. Not the easiest place to take a hike, let alone traverse with your entire family on foot.

But research suggests back when humans first migrated out of Africa this was likely the route they chose.

"The presently harsh environment of the Levant and Arabia are the key regions through which members of the genus Homo, including our species Homo sapiens, had to pass through when leaving Africa and moving into Eurasia," explains archeologist Michael Petraglia from Griffith University in Australia.

While this stretch of land is the only permanent land bridge, researchers are open to the possibility that our ancient relatives exited Africa via what is now the Red Sea, with water levels lower during the glacial periods and the climates on both banks far kinder.

So Shantou University geochronologist Mahmoud Abbas and team examined thirteen 84,000 year-old sediment samples across several Rift Valley sites. Stone tools at one site revealed hominins maye have at least attempted this pathway. Other studies have also found artifacts, footprints, and human fossils from caves nearby dating to the same period.

The sediments also revealed a very different landscape at the time. Layers of sand and gravel were interrupted by rich organic matter and mud containing root casts, suggesting rich vegetation. This sharp change indicates increased rainfall that turned the region into a series of wetlands amidst a wider arid zone during this period, providing the perfect opportunity for mammals – including humans – to expand their territory.

"Rather than dry desert, savannah grasslands would have provided the much-needed resources for humans to survive during their journey out of Africa and into southwest Asia and beyond," explains Abbas.

They knew they wouldn't perish on the Persian Plateau.

After waves of Homo sapiens left Africa, they left few traces of their whereabouts until they reappeared in Eurasia 20,000 years later. So where did they go in the intervening time? A study proposes that Homo sapiens outside of Africa made their home on the Persian plateau during that mysterious period.

Fossil evidence of early Homo sapiens migrations shows that members of our species moved out of Africa at least as far back as 210,000 years ago, while genetic evidence shows that a large wave of migration around 70,000 years ago was the most successful, contributing genes to all modern-day non-African people. But there is a widespread lack of Homo sapiens fossils across Eurasia between 60,000 and 45,000 years ago, prompting the researchers of the new study to investigate where modern humans went during this time.

Using climate models and genetic data, the team found that the Persian plateau was the most suitable location for human occupation during this time, according to the study, published on March 25 in the journal Nature Communications. ...