Modern humans emigrated from Africa along a southerly route, via Arabia, rather than a northerly path through Egypt, as had been thought up to now. This is the main result of a study coordinated by David Comas, Francesc Calafell and Jaume Bertranpetit, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (UPF-CSIC) and published in the October online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution. The paper, in which geneticists from the USA, the Netherlands, India, Russia and China participated, also reveals that our ancestors spread into Eurasia along a route located between Iran and India, and not through the Middle East as scholars had thought.
This study is part of the Genographic Project, funded by the National Geographic and IBM and the most extensive project to date to use genetic data from human populations. It utilised a new analytical method that infers the recombinations of the past from human DNA. The study confirmed that African populations are the most diverse on Earth and enabled calculation of the possible size of ancient human communities, which seem to have comprised a few thousand individuals each.
Marta Melé, Asif Javed, Marc Pybus, Pierre Zalloua, Marc Haber, David Comas, Mihai G. Netea, Oleg Balanovsky, Elena Balanovska, Li Jin, Yajun Yang, RM. Pitchappan, G. Arunkumar, Laxmi Parida, Francesc Calafell, Jaume Bertranpetit, and The Genogràfic Consortium (2011), ” Recombination gives a new insight in the effective population size and the history of the Old World human populations“, Mol Biol Evol (2011), doi:10.1093/molbev/msr213.