Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 615094, 17 pages
Review Article

Upper Pleistocene Human Dispersals out of Africa: A Review of the Current State of the Debate

Turkana Basin Institute, Stony Brook University, SBS Building 5th Floor, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA

Received 15 October 2010; Revised 22 January 2011; Accepted 24 February 2011

Academic Editor: Darren Curnoe

Copyright © 2011 Amanuel Beyin. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although there is a general consensus on African origin of early modern humans, there is disagreement about how and when they dispersed to Eurasia. This paper reviews genetic and Middle Stone Age/Middle Paleolithic archaeological literature from northeast Africa, Arabia, and the Levant to assess the timing and geographic backgrounds of Upper Pleistocene human colonization of Eurasia. At the center of the discussion lies the question of whether eastern Africa alone was the source of Upper Pleistocene human dispersals into Eurasia or were there other loci of human expansions outside of Africa? The reviewed literature hints at two modes of early modern human colonization of Eurasia in the Upper Pleistocene: (i) from multiple Homo sapiens source populations that had entered Arabia, South Asia, and the Levant prior to and soon after the onset of the Last Interglacial (MIS-5), (ii) from a rapid dispersal out of East Africa via the Southern Route (across the Red Sea basin), dating to ~74–60 kya.