THURSDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Modern humans first left Africa much earlier than previously believed, new research suggests.

An ancient human toolkit with hand axes, scrapers and perforators resembling those crafted by early humans in east Africa -- but not the Middle East -- was found in the United Arab Emirates, the researchers said. Noting that the toolkit dates back 100,000 to 125,000 years, researchers said the finding indicates that humans could have arrived on the Arabian Peninsula directly from Africa rather than via the Nile Valley or the Near East, as has previously been suggested.

Most evidence has suggested that modern humans left Africa via the Mediterranean Sea or along the Arabian coast about 60,000 years ago.

The new report is published in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Science.

"These 'anatomically modern' humans -- like you and me -- had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world. Our findings should stimulate a re-evaluation of the means by which we modern humans became a global species," lead author Simon Armitage, of the University of London, said in a news release from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Armitage and colleagues noted that the Arabian Peninsula was much wetter 125,000 years ago, with greater amounts of vegetation and a network of lakes and rivers. This type of environment would have enabled early modern humans to journey into and through Arabia and then into the Fertile Crescent and India, they added.

More information

The American Museum of Natural History has more about human evolution.