January 26, 2012
Following Genetic Footprints Out Of Africa
A new study, using genetic analysis to look for clues about human migration over sixty thousand years ago, suggests that the first modern humans settled in Arabia on their way from the Horn of Africa to the rest of the world.
Led by the University of Leeds and the University of Porto in Portugal, the study is published today in American Journal of Human Genetics and provides intriguing insight into the earliest stages of modern human migration, say the researchers.
The international research team, which included colleagues from across Europe, Arabia and North Africa, analyzed three of the earliest non-African maternal lineages. These early branches are associated with the time period when modern humans first successfully moved out of Africa.
Using mitochondrial DNA analysis, which traces the female line of descent and is useful for comparing relatedness between different populations, the researchers compared complete genomes from Arabia and the Near East with a database of hundreds more samples from Europe. They found evidence for an ancient ancestry within Arabia.
Professor Martin Richards of the University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: "The timing and pattern of the migration of early modern humans has been a source of much debate and research. Our new results suggest that Arabia, rather than North Africa or the Near East, was the first staging-post in the spread of modern humans around the world."
On the Net: