My main objections to a recent out of Africa date.

Also known as the ‘I’m not typing this out in the comments anymore‘ entry. I keep seeing the 40k for the out of Africa date in print, and it’s starting to get on my nerves just a bit. Some of sites these don’t have bones, but modern human associated industries. This is not including any sites in or South of the Sahara.

I’ll start with the oldest first.

Skhul, Israel.

Dates ranging from 130,000 -100,000 BP on assorted remains.  The crania shown is Skhul V, roughly dated to 105,000 BP. Many archaic traits, but anatomically modern humans. The in theory is that the 130,000  year old colonisation of Asia failed due to climate conditions, although it didn’t seem to bother the Neanderthals in the area. There’s a gap in the record from 92,000 BP to about 45,000 BP, which only has Neanderthal remains (so far).

Qafzeh, Israel


Modern human remains about 92,000 BP. The best known is of a 12 year old boy.

Jebel Irhoud, Morocco.

Frontal view of cast of adult male Homo sapiens from Jebel Irhoud in Morocco.

Estimated dates range from 160,000 to 90,000 BP. More modern humans with archaic traits-so archaic they were mistaken for Neanderthals for years.

Frontal view of cast of adult male Homo sapiens from Jebel Irhoud in Morocco. Link.


Taforalt, Morocco.

Aterian shell beads  found dated from 110,000 BP to 82,000 BP. The Aterian was continuous in North Africa until the Dabban and IberoMaurassian industries 40,000 and 20,000 BP.

Henan province, China.


Modern human teeth dated to around 94,000 BP, and the Xuchang/ Liujiang skull dated to at least 68,000 BP and possibly as old as 159,000 BP.



 Nauwalabila I, Australia.

 Oldest thermoluminescence date of 60,300+6,700 years on stone tools .

Malakunanja II, Australia.

Thermoluminescence dates of prior to 50,000 BP. There’s also a claimed but very poorly provenenced date of 116k in a site in Kimberly.

Topper site, S. Carolina, USA.

Site dated  ~50,000 BP with C14.

Pedra Furada, Brazil.

Oldest date for site occupation 60,000 BP ,according to the archaeologist.

Kota Tampan, Malaysia.

Pebble tools associated with modern humans dating back to 75,000 BP. The pebble tools were found in a later burial with a modern human (Perak man).

Niah Cave, Borneo.

Skull dated to 40,000 to 42,000 BP.

Üçağızlı Cave, Turkey

EUP site about 43,000 BP.

Ksar ‘Akil, Lebanon.

EUP site dated to 45,000 BP

 And Dr Stephen Oppenheimer has worked out it woukd take about 20,000 years for modern humans to work their way into Australia from Africa. so add that on to any Australian and American sites for a minimum OOA date.

There are probably a few I’ve missed. Some of the Indian sites under the Toba ash are claimed as modern human sites, but there’s a lack of bones so I won’t include those, although I suspect they are right. Some are on this pdf, with more detail from this paper, Modern Human Origins and the Evolution of Behavior in the Later Pleistocene Record of South Asia. From this a few snippets..

A number of mtDNA lineages (specifically U2i, M2,and R5) share coalescence dates of 50,000–70,000 yearsago (Kivisild et al. 2000, Metspalu et al. 2004) and may represent an India-specific subcladerelated to the initial dispersal of modern humans into the peninsula.

A Middle Paleolithic scraper-based industry from Patpara in the Middle Son Valley is dated to~103,000 years ago (Blumenschine, Brandt, and Clark 1983, Williams and Clarke1995), while dates of 75,000 and160,000 years ago areassociated with artifacts recovered from Samnapur (Nar-mada Valley) and Balotra (Luni River valley) (Mishra etal. 1999, Misra et al. 1990). The dating of miolites in the Hiran Valley places assemblages classed as Middle Paleolithic at 69,000–56,000 years ago (Baskaran et al.1986). The earliest assemblage classified as Upper Paleolithic is currently Site 55, Pakistan, where the loess overlying the occupational horizon has been dated to ca 45,000 years before present(Dennell et al. 1992).

One of my main objections to a more recent OOA date is that it doesn’t make sense with the dates of the backmigration mt DNA into Africa and the mt DNA in early Europeans. In a nutshell, there was a back migration of mt U and M1 from Asia, which appears to have been accompanied by Y chromosome R1, somewhere from 40,000 to 35,000 BP- supported by stone tool cultures and later dates of mt DNA in the same area matching the cultural epxansions. The problem with a more recent OOA date is that you have to skip impossibly quickly from L3 to U if the exit date is around the 40,000 mark. The same is true for the migrations into Europe where much later haplotypes are found relatively quickly in time and it just wouldn’t allow enough time to get from L3 to pre HV. There’s also not enough time for Y chromosome R1 to appear with the more recent OOA dates. The estimated dates on the mt DNA make a lot more sense when compared to an OOA date of 100k, and the Y chromosome date estimates are starting to get old enough to be an acceptable match. Which is why I’m taking the side that supports humans being on the other side of Asia when the Toba eruption occurred.

I’m in good company at least. Cavalli Sforza’s estimated date for the separation of African and non African populations was 146,000 BP.

The first estimate gave a separation time of the first migrants out of Africa of 146,000 years ago

I’ve seen at one other paper where the date was 120,ooo. My guess would be that modern humans were inhabiting North Africa and particularly the Nile delta (which as far as I know never dried out) for a while before a move into Asia was made. The structure of this Aterian population was wiped out by the later backmigrations from West Asia, and no North African mt DNA dates back prior to this era.

And now I have an evil headache. I’ll have a better look at the Petraglia pdf later…

9 responses to “My main objections to a recent out of Africa date.

  1. “More modern humans with archaic traits-so archaic they were mistaken for Neanderthals for years”.

    Another example of how difficult it is to define the difference. And yet they were different species?

    I suspect that evidence interpreted as supporting a 40k out of Africa event is actually evidence for a migration INTO Africa.

  2. Moroccan Homo-sapian are a lot older 160.000BC
    woooow ! ! !
    he was a real ancestor of berbers ?

    • he was a real ancestor of berbers ?

      Probably not. The MSA north African population seems to have died out at the same time of the Neanderthals when the Eurasians moved back into Africa.

  3. Well, whoever is claiming a 40 kya age for the OoA epysode is totally confused. I have never seen a date younger than 60 kya, while the usual conservative estimates are more in the 70-80 kya range.

    Still it is very interesting to see the many different remains that suggest an even older date, even in America it seems (how on Earth did they manage to go that far? – beats me). I would easily go with a c. 100 kya for the effective OoA, based on my own non-TRMCA estimates for genetic lineages, specially if the Toba event caused a major bottleneck in Asia (so we would still get c. 75-70 kya for the major Eurasian expansion from a handful of survivor lineages).

    In this case, I’d think of mtDNA M as South Asian and mtDNA N as SE Asian by origin. Y-DNA F would be South Asian, while D and C would be SE Asian. It’d be possible also that mtDNA R and Y-DNA K starred together (not strictly together everywhere anyhow) a secondary expansion at a somewhat later moment (maybe c. 60 kya?).

    • I see at least once a month the 40k OOA date in print- and it’s commonly thought to be the date by a lot of people who don’t keep up with the finds.

      The one thing I can never get over is that there was never any colonisation of America by boat from Africa. The currents would wash you right across the mid Atlantic in a fairly short time span. But it seems it never happened.

  4. The one thing I can never get over is that there was never any colonisation of America by boat from Africa. The currents would wash you right across the mid Atlantic in a fairly short time span. But it seems it never happened.

    Well there are theories that say it actually happened (the famous journey of Mansa Musa’s brother for example). Also early explorers apparently thought that NE Brazilian natives were Black. Not sure what to believe of all that but there it is for consideration.

    IMO the main problem that I see is survival through an oceanic cruise, even if relatively rapid, and then the need for such a colonizing epysode to succeed that the colonists would have to be of both genders and have some genetic diversity.

    • I think you have to remember that the South Americans liked to paint their whole bodies black, and Europeans tended to call anyone brown black that long ago- including the Guanches.

      I think diversity in the colonists would be the bigger issue. If they got washed over while another populaiton was in residence the DNA would probably be too low to be detected.

  5. Hi, Mathilda. I presume you’re having ups and downs with your illness and that’s why you don’t post much. I hope to be wrong, of course.

    Anyhow, I believe this will interest you and your readers and directly connects with this post: frozen penguin DNA demonstrates that current DNA dating techniques are wrong. The evolutionary speed seems to be 2 to 6 times slower.

    • I blasted through that penguin DNA thing a Dienekes this morning. I’m not at all surprised dates are different. Its why I’m all for getting some Ancient DNA from bones to compare dates with the mutation rates (say.. the m81 or R!b Y chr in Africa) to get a more accurate picture.

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