The following articles show where fossils of humans have been found by anthropologists and paleontologist. This information gives clear evidence that all humans living today can trace their origin to Africa.
Around 120,000 years ago Homo sapiens emerged as a new species, most likely in central East Africa, and from there migrated into the Middle East, south Africa, Europe, central Asia, and finally into the New World. To reach the Bering Strait from Africa by 14,000 years ago, humans would have had to wander no more than one mile every eight years. — The timing of Ice Age coolings, and the amount they lowered ocean levels, specifies the geologic periods in which it was possible to migrate to land masses otherwise separated by water.
The map above shows the likely paths of human migration out from the location in east Central Africa where modern humans probably first appeared. The already-occupied range of Homo erectus is shown for comparison. (Not shown is the radiation of Homo heidelbergensis into Europe.)
The map below shows in greater detail the major fossil and archaeological sites in the Old World. Careful geological dating of these sites, and close comparison of the tools and bones found at different sites, are helping paleoanthropologists to map when and where different species appeared, and to tie these sites together into migratory patterns. Climate data and the migratory patterns of other fossil mammals provide corroborating evidence for the overall sequence of human movements.
Both maps present the ocean coastlines and inland tracts of vegetation as they likely appeared around 20,000 years ago, when the last Ice Age reached its maximum and sea level had dropped more than 20 feet below where it is today. By that time modern humans had radiated out of Africa into Europe and most of Asia, including Australia. Climate affected vegetation and rainfall to a considerable degree, and these wide variations stimulated human evolution through human migration. The backwater of human evolution, eastern Homo erectus, lived in parts of Asia where ecology varied much less with climate than it did in Africa and Europe.
It’s interesting that several fossil sites from Homo erectus up to modern humans were located near seacoasts at the time of their habitation. There is good evidence that oceangoing boats were constructed by humans by 60,000 years ago. We tend to think of early humans as hillside “cave dwellers” and in inland areas they often were; but they were also early voyagers and harvesters on the waves.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to assess the importance of the oceans to human migration. Because sea level during the ice ages was much lower than it is today, most prehistoric coastlines are now covered by water. The few places where littoral habitations have been recovered are in areas where caves were located in seaside cliffs or hills.
New Ethiopian Fossils Are From 6-million-year-old Hominid Living Just After Split From Chimpanzees
BERKELEY Paleoanthropologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History have found more fossils of a nearly 6-million-year-old human ancestor first reported three years ago, cementing its importance as the earliest hominid to appear after the human line diverged from the line leading to modern chimpanzees.
When first reported in the journal Nature in 2001, the hominid was named Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba, a subspecies of a younger hominid, Ardipithecus ramidus, also from the Middle Awash region of Ethiopia. The new fossils – six teeth – provide enough evidence to designate the hominid a distinct species, Ardipithecus kadabba, rather than a subspecies of Ardipithecus ramidus.
“Ardipithecus kadabba may also represent the first species on the human branch of the family tree just after the evolutionary split between lines leading to modern chimpanzees and humans,” said Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator and head of physical anthropology at the Cleveland museum.
Haile-Selassie and coauthors Tim White of UC Berkeley and Gen Suwa of the University Museum at the University of Tokyo report their fossil finds in the March 5 issue of the journal Science.
Between 1997 and 2000, Haile-Selassie excavated 11 hominid fossils from at least five individuals who once lived in a wooded environment, now a dry, rocky area in the Afar rift of Ethiopia’s Middle Awash region. He and White, along with geologist Giday WoldeGabriel of Los Alamos National Laboratory, interpreted the bones as those of a bipedal hominid about the size of a chimpanzee living between 5.2 and 5.8 million years ago.