Around 3500 BC, due to a tilt in the earth's orbit, the Sahara experienced a period of rapid desertification.
The population trekked out of the Sahara region towards the Nile Valley below the Second Cataract where they made permanent or semi-permanent settlements.
A definite line was drawn between the two continents by the geographer Ptolemy (85–165 AD), indicating Alexandria along the Prime Meridian and making the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa.
As Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of "Africa" expanded with their knowledge.
Other etymological hypotheses have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa": During the mid-20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation perhaps as early as 7 million years ago (BP=before present).
Fossil remains of several species of early apelike humans thought to have evolved into modern man, such as Australopithecus afarensis (radiometrically dated to approximately 3.9–3.0 million years BP, These first modern humans left Africa and populated the rest of the globe during the Out of Africa II migration dated to approximately 50,000 years BP, exiting the continent either across Bab-el-Mandeb over the Red Sea, Other migrations of modern humans within the African continent have been dated to that time, with evidence of early human settlement found in Southern Africa, Southeast Africa, North Africa, and the Sahara.
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In the late 19th century European countries colonized most of Africa.In the Sahara-Nile complex, people domesticated many animals, including the donkey and a small screw-horned goat which was common from Algeria to Nubia.