Early ancestors of modern humans may have left Africa far earlier than was previously thought.
A haul of stone tools unearthed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) suggests that pioneering groups of Homo sapiens arrived on the Arabian Peninsula as long as 125,000 years ago.
Until now, most evidence has pointed to an exodus 60,000 years ago along the Mediterranean Sea or Arabian coast.
Scientists found what they describe as an 'ancient human toolkit' at the Jebel Faya archaeological site.
It included primitive hand-axes along with a variety of scrapers and perforators, and resembled technology used by early humans in east Africa.
The stone tools are between 100,000 and 125,000 years old, a team led by Dr Hans-Peter Uerpmann reported in the journal Science. "These 'anatomically modern' humans -- like you and me -- had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world," said researcher Dr Simon Armitage, from Royal Holloway, University of London.
'Our findings should stimulate a re-evaluation of the means by which we modern humans became a global species.'
Further research suggested that lowered sea levels more than 100,000 years ago would have allowed humans to cross the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which separates Arabia from the Horn of Africa.
At that time, the Arabian Peninsula was much wetter than it is today, with greater vegetation cover and a network of lakes and rivers.
Such a landscape would have allowed early humans from Africa direct access into Arabia and then into the Fertile Crescent and India, said the scientists.
Courtesy Daily Mail, UK