Big news - rewriting ancient history

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Amazing story from National Geographic:

Oldest Tools Outside Africa Found, Rewriting Human Story
Modern humans' distant relatives left Africa earlier than previously thought—rewriting a key chapter in humankind's epic prequel, according to a discovery  unveiled on Wednesday in Nature.

Nearly a hundred stone tools found at the Shangchen site in central China may push back the spread of our ancient cousins—hominins—out of Africa by more than a quarter million years.

The toolmakers lived at Shangchen on and off for 800,000 years between 2.1 and 1.3 million years ago, leaving behind tools that are unprecedented  outside of Africa. The site's oldest tools are roughly 300,000 years older than Dmanisi, a 1.8-million-year-old site in the Republic of Georgia with the oldest known fossils of our extinct cousin Homo erectus.

A bit of what we know so far:

Early Wanderers
Today's modern humans, Homo sapiens, trace back to a migratory pulse that left Africa some 60,000 years ago. But that migration was hardly the first to leave the continent—nor were modern humans the only hominins to make the trip. Remains of Homo erectus have been found from Georgia to Java. Neanderthals' ancestors trekked to Europe  roughly half a million years ago. At least 700,000 years ago, early hominins somehow swept through the South Pacific, giving rise to the “hobbit”  Homo floresiensis and  other island toolmakers.

Some sites have hinted at an even older hominin presence in Asia. In the 1980s, researchers suggested that stone tools in Pakistan  could be as old as two million years old. In 2004, a Chinese team found  1.66-million-year-old stone tools in north China's Nihewan basin. And in 2015, researchers made the case that a Homo erectus skull found less than three miles from Shangchen  was more than 1.6 million years old.

I love it - the more we think we have a handle on something, the more we find out that we know nothing. Raising a glass of wine to our early ancestors - I salute you!!!

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on July 11, 2018 9:08 PM.

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