Origin point: Study pinpoints exact location of earliest modern humans

An international team has found that this group of Homo Sapiens originated in the south of the greater Zambezi River Basin region.

An international team has found that the earliest group of Homo Sapiens originated in the south of the greater Zambezi River Basin region. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - A groundbreaking study released by the University of Pretoria on Monday has pinpointed the exact location of the earliest modern humans, which has been found to be Botswana.

An international team has found that this group of Homo Sapiens originated in the south of the greater Zambezi River Basin region.

Researchers at the university, Professor Vanessa Hayes and Professor Riana Bornman, were part of a team of international scientists who conducted the study and discovered through the use of DNA, that the “homeland” also included the entire expanse of northern Botswana, into Namibia to the west, and Zimbabwe to the east.

The study provides a window into the first 100,000 years of modern humans’ history.

Prof Hayes, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and University of Sydney said the study showed that “…the southwest Kalahari, played a significant role in shaping anatomical modern human emergence and prehistory.

“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.

“Mitochondrial DNA acts like a time capsule of our ancestral mothers, accumulating changes slowly over generations. Comparing the complete DNA code, or mitogenome, from different individuals provides information on how closely they are related,” she said.