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Research: Early modern humans left Africa earlier than thought

Early modern humans left Africa earlier than thoughtThe discovery of an ancient stone tool kit in the United Arab Emirates, reported in today's edition of the journal Science, now is raising the possibility that today's modern humans first started leaving Africa earlier than paleontologists previously thought.

The question of when modern humans first started leaving the African continent has been debated since the 1980s. African fossils of modern-looking humans date to about 200,000 years ago, but gene studies of non-Africans suggest that people only left the mother continent by 60,000 years ago.

But now Arabian stone age tools point to modern humans migrating globally 125,000 years ago, the international paleontology team suggests in Science.

The report describes a handful of two-sided stone blades, scrapers and hand axes excavated from a collapsed rock shelter at an archaeological site, near Jebel Faya in the United Arab Emirates. The tools only resemble ones from East Africa dating to that era, says the discovery team headed by Han-Peter Uerpmann of Germany's Tubingen University.

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