The ancestral homeland of all humans alive today can be traced back to the south of the Zambezi River, in northern Botswana, scientists have said.
In a study published in the journal Nature, the researchers believe that they have, for the first time, been able to pinpoint the geographical location where the earliest ancestors of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) arose 200,000 years ago.
Back then, this region – covering parts of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe – was believed to be lush green and home to an enormous lake, allowing the ancestors to thrive for 70,000 years.
As the climate started to change, the population began to disperse – paving the way for modern humans to migrate out of Africa, and ultimately, across the world.
Professor Vanessa Hayes, a geneticist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, said: “It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago.
“What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors.”
Professor Hayes and her colleagues collected blood samples from study participants in Namibia and South Africa and looked at their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).
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