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Early humans migrated out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago through Egypt rather than crossing the shallow sea that separated Ethiopia from the Arabian Peninsula as some archaeologists have suggested, a study of the DNA of modern people has found.
In our research, we generated the first comprehensive set of unbiased genomic data from Northeast Africans and observed, after controlling for recent migrations, a higher genetic similarity between Egyptians than between Ethiopians and Eurasians – suggesting that Egypt not Ethiopia was the last stop,” he said.
They also found that modern Egyptians were more similar genetically to modern east Africans than to west Africans, which supported the idea more recent human migrations were not interfering with the findings.
The study found that people outside of Africa split from the Egyptian genomes about 55,000 years ago, which the split from Ethiopian genomes occurred about 65,000 years ago, suggesting that Egypt was the last stop before emerging from Africa.
Previous genetic studies in mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited down the maternal line, have suggested a migratory route that exited Africa from Ethiopia. However, Dr Pagani said that this work is not in conflict from the latest study as it is possible that some earlier migrations did occur across the strait of Bal el Mandeb to the Arabian Peninsula.
“We believe our results provide compelling evidence for the origins of modern Eurasians. But it still leaves open the question of the migrations that led to the colonisation of Papua New Guinea and Australia very early in human history,” he said.