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Study: Early humans trekked from Africa through Egypt, not Ethiopia

According to a new study published in the ‘American Journal of Human Genetics,’ early modern humans migrated from Africa through Egypt, and not Ethiopia as previously believed. New discoveries like these help researchers to explain evolution and dispersion of humans around the world.human-migration-africa-egypt

Scientists have proposed two plausible routes: the northern route, i.e, Egypt or through Ethiopia, the Bab el Mandeb strait, and the Arabian Peninsula which is the southern route. Study lead author Lucy Pagani of Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge stated that they generated the first set of unbiased genomic data from Northeast Africans and observed that there is a higher genetic similarity between Egyptians and Eurasians than between Ethiopians and Eurasians.

“This information will be of great value as a freely available reference panel for future medical and anthropological studies in these areas,” said Pagani.

The study was conducted using the gene sequences from six northeast African populations, consisting of 100 Egyptians and 125 Ethiopians. Though scientists knew that the Middle East was the next route for early humans, the genetic information points out the Egypt was their last destination, before leaving for the Arabian peninsula. Early humans could have crossed the Bab-el-Mandeb strait to reach the peninsula, 80 miles across at an average depth of 600 feet.

Study authors now claim that Eurasians began to genetically drift from Egyptians 55,000 years ago, from Ethiopians 10,000 years later, and from West Africans after another 10,000 years. It is believed that the seas were lower at that time, but not completely dry, and water was considered as a factor for travelling. While travelling north, humans could have followed the Nile river, which gave them easy access to water (plants, animals, etc.). Then, they could have gathered at a comfortable place, before turning east into new frontiers. The new study gives researchers an expansive public database of Egyptian and Ethiopian diversity.

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