Genomic analysis says modern humans took a northern route out of Africa

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A new research involving genomic analyses of people currently living in Ethiopia and Egypt indicate that modern human migration followed a northern rather than a southern route i.e. they took the route out of Africa from Egypt.

To uncover the migratory path that the ancestors of present-day Europeans and Asians (Eurasians) took when moving out of Africa around 60,000 years ago, Dr. Luca Pagani, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues analysed the genetic information from six modern Northeast African populations (100 Egyptians and five Ethiopian populations each represented by 25 people).

Pagani explained that two geographically plausible routes have been proposed: an exit through the current Egypt and Sinai, which is the northern route, or one through Ethiopia, the Bab el Mandeb strait, and the Arabian Peninsula, which is the southern route. In their research, they 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 and Eurasians than between Ethiopians and Eurasians.

This suggests that Egypt was most likely the last stop on the way out of Africa.

In addition to providing insights on the evolutionary past of all Eurasians with their new findings, the researchers have also developed an extensive public catalog of the genomic diversity in Ethiopian and Egyptian populations.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG).