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Science

Evidence Found for Earliest Modern Humans 417

Hugh Pickens writes "Researchers at Arizona State University report that they have pushed back the date for the earliest modern humans to 164,000 years ago, far earlier than previously documented. Paleoanthropologists now say that genetic and fossil evidence suggests that modern human species — Homo sapiens — evolved in Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago and in seeking the "perfect site" to explore for remains of the earliest populations, researchers analyzed ocean currents, climate data, geological formations and other data to pin down a location. "The world was in a glacial stage 125,000 to 195,000 years ago, and much of Africa was dry to mostly desert; in many areas food would have been difficult to acquire. The paleoenvironmental data indicate there are only five or six places in all of Africa where humans could have survived these harsh conditions," said Curtis Marean, a professor in ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Photos from the cave at Pinnacle Point in South Africa show where the team found ochre, bladelets and evidence of shellfish — findings that reveal the earliest dated evidence of modern humans."

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