Did Homo Erectus Originate in Asia_
Scientific American Download time: Jun 7 2011 1:15 PM ET
Archaeologists have long thought that Homo erectus, humanity's first ancestor to spread around the world, evolved in Africa before dispersing throughout Europe and Asia. But evidence of tool-making at the border of Europe and Asia is challenging that assumption.
Reid Ferring, an anthropologist at the University of North Texas in Denton, and his colleagues excavated the Dmanisi site in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia. They found stone artifacts--mostly flakes that were dropped as hominins knapped rocks to create tools for butchering animals--lying in sediments almost 1.85 million years old. Until now, anthropologists have thought that H. erectus evolved between 1.78 million and 1.65 million years ago--after the Dmanisi tools would have been made.
Furthermore, the distribution of the 122 artifacts paints a picture of long-term occupation of the area. Instead of all the finds being concentrated in one layer of sediment, which would indicate that hominins visited the site briefly on one occasion, the artifacts are spread through several layers of sediment that span the period between 1.85 million and 1.77 million years ago. The findings are published June 6 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.…
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