Homo sapiens, our own species, evolved in Africa sometime between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago. Anthropologists are pretty confident in that estimate, based on fossil, genetic and archaeological evidence.
Then what happened? How modern humans spread throughout the rest of the world is one of the most active areas of research in human evolutionary studies.
The earliest fossil evidence of our species outside of Africa is found at a site called Misliya cave, in the Middle East, and dates to around 185,000 years ago. While additional H. sapiens fossils are found from around 120,000 years ago in this same region, it seems modern humans reached Europe much later.
Understanding when our species migrated out of Africa can reveal insights into present-day biological, behavioral and cultural diversity. While we Homo sapiens are the only humans alive today, our species coexisted with different human lineages in the past, including Neandertals and Denisovans. Scientists are interested in when and where H. sapiens encountered these other kinds of humans.