I'm very uncomfortable with popular claims about the migration of modern humans into Asia and Europe. You often see the date as 50,000 years ago and most people seem to think that this was a sudden event associated with the destruction of ancient hominids (Neandertal, Homo erectus) who lived in Asia and Europe at this time.
The recent date was based largely on mitochondrial DNA sequences and it required a reliable time reference that just wasn't there. As other nuclear genes were analyzed the dates indicated much older migrations. Then there's the fossil evidence. I'm not able to judge that evidence but it didn't seem to me to be as neat and tidy as a sudden exodus at 50,000 years ago would require.
Fortunately we have John Hawks, a scientist who's area of expertise covers archeology AND population genetics. He thinks that the date for "Out of Africa" should be older and he can back up his skepticism with evidence. Read his latest posting at: Jebel Faya and early-stage reduction. Will the new date end up being 100,000 years ago—or maybe even 150,000 years ago?
Since John doesn't allow comments on his blog I thought I'd open up some discussion here. John, aside from the question of modern Homo sapiens, when did Neandertals leave Africa and when was the migration of Homo erectus? How secure are those dates?
P.S. As I was about to publish this post I did a quick check to see when the movie was released. It was 1985. This means that none of the students in my molecular evolution class were alive when it came out. I feel old.
[Image Credit: The map is from The Human Journey.]