FAR from being the fearsome hunter-gatherer that would brave the deadliest foe to fend for their families, early man was a wimp who preferred to stay at home in a comfy cave.
On the other hand, women liked to get out and about two million years ago. The evidence comes from two cave sites in South Africa where adjacent communities of now extinct humans once lived.
Analysis of their teeth showed whether or not individuals were local or had arrived from another area. More than half the female teeth were from outside the region, compared with about 10pc of the male teeth, an international team of researchers found.
The experts concluded that most males lived and died in their birthplaces, while females were more likely to find new homes.
"Here we have the first direct glimpse of the geographic movements of early hominids," said lead researcher Professor Sandi Copeland, from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The results were reported in the journal 'Nature'.
It is not clear where the roving females identified in the study spent their formative years. Why the males preferred to stay at home is also uncertain. One possibility is that they were simply reluctant to leave their caves.