Humankind’s Ancestral ‘Homeland’ Pinpointed in Botswana

A large ancient wetlands region spanning northern Botswana – once teeming with life but now dominated by desert and salt flats – may represent the ancestral homeland of all of the 7.7 billion people on Earth today

Their study, guided by maternal DNA data from more than 1,200 people indigenous to southern Africa, proposed a central role for this region in the early history of humankind starting 200,000 years ago, nurturing our species for 70,000 years before climate changes paved the way for the first migrations.

A lake that at the time was Africa’s largest – twice the area of today’s Lake Victoria – gave rise to the ancient wetlands covering the Greater Zambezi River Basin that includes northern Botswana into Namibia to the west and Zimbabwe to the east, the researchers said.

It has been long established that Homo sapiens originated somewhere in Africa before later spreading worldwide.

“But what we hadn’t known until this study was where exactly this homeland was,” said geneticist Vanessa Hayes of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and University of Sydney, who led the study published in the journal Nature.

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