University of Algarve researcher Nuno Bicho

Algarve researcher secures €2.5 million in EU funding

Project to investigate first migrations of Homo sapiens from Africa

A researcher at the University of the Algarve (UAlg) has received a €2.5 million grant in European Union funding to investigate the dynamics of the first migrations of Homo sapiens from Africa, with a major focus of the work in Mozambique, it was announced on Tuesday.

The project ‘Dispersals’ overseen by Algarve researcher, Nuno Bicho, was among those that secured funding from the European Research Council (ERC), out of 2,652 proposals submitted by researchers from 28 nationalities, the university announced in a statement.

The grant will allow Bicho to study the dynamics of the first migrations of Homo sapiens in and out of Africa and evaluate the genetic model that the human populations of southern Africa were the genesis of the migration of the species from that continent, about 70,000 years ago.

According to Bicho, the project – which brings together a wide range of international researchers – includes work to be carried out in the river basins of the Limpopo and Save, in Mozambique.

The area where the work is to be carried out “straddles the two key regions of the emergence” of the species, that is, Southern Africa and Eastern Africa, he noted in a statement.

“This project will be crucial in providing archaeological, chronological and paleoenvironmental data that will be innovative and of high resolution,” the statement quotes Bicho as saying.

He adds that the project should provide a fundamental perspective on the processes related to the first migrations and dispersal of the species on the African continent and beyond, “which resulted in the human diaspora across the planet over the last 100,000 years.”

€6.5 million-worth of funding

The three grants received so far by the University of the Algarve through its Interdisciplinary Centre for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour, totalling €6.5 million, will contribute to making the two structures “a centre of excellence in archaeology,” he said.

In March, UAlg announced the award of a €1.9 million grant to João Cascalheira, another researcher at the same centre, who is overseeing a project that aims to study the disappearance of Neanderthals in Western Europe. The grant was also awarded by the ERC, a body that was established by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, in 2007.

Source: Lusa