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Windows out of Africa: A 300,000-year chronology of climatically plausible human contact with Eurasia

By Robert M Beyer, Mario Krapp, Anders Eriksson, Andrea Manica

Posted 14 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.12.901694

Whilst an African origin for Anatomically Modern Humans is well established, the timings of their expansions into Eurasia are the subject to heated debate, due to the scarcity of fossils and the lack of suitably old ancient DNA. Here, we estimate potential timings and routes out of Africa by deriving anthropologically and ecologically plausible precipitation requirements for human existence, and applying them to high-resolution palaeoclimate reconstructions for the past 300k years. We find that exit routes and timings previously suggested based on archaeological and genetic evidence coincide precisely with the presence of sufficiently wet corridors into Eurasia, while the gaps between the proposed exit timings co-occur with periods of insufficient rainfall. This demonstrates the key role that palaeoclimatic conditions played for out-of-Africa expansions. The challenging environmental conditions outside of Africa that occurred between windows of potential contact, coupled with the lack of a demographic rescue effect from migration and possible competition with other hominins, likely explain the demise of early colonists prior to the large-scale colonisation of the world beginning from ~65kya.

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