Researchers are almost positive humans originate in Africa, but are not as sure about what route they took to spread across the world. A new genomic analysis of modern people in Ethiopia and Egypt could help solve this mystery.
The findings suggest Egypt was the "major gateway" out of Africa, and migrants took a northern route out of their homeland, Cell Press reported. The findings reveal the migratory path of Europeans and Asians (Eurasians) that was traversed 60,000 years ago.
The researchers analyzed the genetic information of six modern Northeast African populations consisting of 100 Egyptians and five Ethiopian populations represented by 25 individuals each.
"Two geographically plausible routes have been proposed: an exit through the current Egypt and Sinai, which is the northern route, or one through Ethiopia, the Bab el Mandeb strait, and the Arabian Peninsula, which is the southern route," said Luca Pagani, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge. "In our research, we generated the first comprehensive set of unbiased genomic data from Northeast Africans and observed, after controlling for recent migrations, a higher genetic similarity between Egyptians and Eurasians than between Ethiopians and Eurasians."
The findings suggest Egypt was the final stop on the journey out of Africa. The findings shed light on the past, but also create a public catalog of Ethiopian and Egyptian genomic diversity.
"This information will be of great value as a freely available reference panel for future medical and anthropological studies in these areas," Pagani said.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG).