Researchers have claimed in a publication in the Nature journal that Homo sapiens first appeared in North Botswana and not the previously thought East African country of Tanzania.
According to Vanessa Hayes, a geneticist at Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, modern man first migrated from a region south of the Zambesi River, which is now dominated by salt pans.
The area was surrounded by a large lake and could have been the birthplace of man the study noted.
“It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago,” Hayes said.
“What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors.”
The BBC reports that there were three waves of human migration aided by the changing climate and the opening up of green fertile corridors.
According to the BBC, researchers at Garvan institute created a scenario based on tracing back the human family tree using hundreds of samples of mitochondrial DNA – the scrap of DNA that passes down the maternal line from mother to child.
The team used genetics, geology and climate computer model simulations to paint a picture of what the African continent might have been like 200,000 years ago.
The findings have been greeted with scepticism, however.
Prof. Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, told the BBC that the mitochondrial evidence is not enough to pinpoint where the Homo sapiens originated from.
“You can’t use modern mitochondrial distributions on their own to reconstruct a single location for modern human origins,” he said.
“I think it’s over-reaching the data because you’re only looking at one tiny part of the genome so it cannot give you the whole story of our origins.”
Source: Sahara Reporters, New York