Ancient Humans Left Africa Earlier Than Previously Thought

New research published in the journal Nature shows that ancient humans left Africa over 200,000 years earlier than it was previously thought.

This new information comes after the discovery of stone tools uncovered by archaeologists in the Shangchen region of China. The tools were almost 1 million years old, meaning that at that time, the ancient humans already traveled to other areas on Earth.

A Chinese team led by Professor Zhaoyu Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences found the tools. With them, there was also Professor Robin Dennell (Exeter University).

Professor Dennell explains that their “discovery means it is necessary now to reconsider the timing of when early humans left Africa.”

The tools were made from stone, and they were used as blades. Scientists believe ancient humans called hominins created these tools.

Until finding these tools, the oldest ones were found in Dmanisi, Georgia, dating back 1.85 million years. The ones found in China were 2.1 million years old.

To figure out the age of those tools, researchers analyzed the magnetic minerals in the rocks. The planet’s changing magnetic field makes magnetic minerals align with the field. Then, the minerals are trapped inside rocks. When analyzed, they can tell researchers their approximate age.

Researchers Must Reevaluate the Human Prehistory in Eurasia

Hominins looked like apes and had a brain the size of a chimpanzee’s. They walked on two legs, and it seems they were the ones that invented the tools. Dr. Dennell said that:

“Suddenly you had a primate that could obtain meat from a carcass, and it opened up a new world for them. That simple technology was enough to get them out of Africa and right across Asia.”

Anthropologist Professor John Kappelman commented on the discovery that the journey from Eastern Africa to Eastern Asia is proof of an “expansion of dramatic proportions” and that it could have been “facilitated by population increases as they moved into new territories.” However, he has even more questions now:

“Yet even with a dispersal rate of only 5-15km per year, a value well inside the daily foraging range of modern hunter-gatherers, the distance between Africa and Asia could have been covered in just 1,000–3,000 years.”

The researchers know that they will need to continue their study and find out the route the primitive humans took and at what speed they traveled to get to Asia.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere