Evolution 150,000 BC
The recent discovery of artefacts in Eritrea's Red Sea coast dated around 125 kya has shifted attention toward the possibility of a southern route out of Africa. After Arabia, humans could have easily moved along the coastline to India and Indonesia, and then made the more heroic leap to Australia. This shoreline expansion, hopping across narrow stretches of sea, would fit particularly well with claims that modern humans had arrived in Austalia before 60 kya. ...the genetic measurements provide convincing evidence that the last wave of colonisation out of Africa was the only successful one. (145)
We can see traces of our origins in all of the earth's ancient life forms, from the earliest marine creatures through the tree-shrews that lived tens of millions of years ago to our last primate ancestors--but only in the crucial interval of two to one million years ago did our genus, Homo, become become the dominanat primate in the world, and not until just a few hundred thousand years ago did humans appear whom we can relate to ourselves by calling them, too, Homo sapiens. We reserve the ultimate accolade of "people like us," Homo sapiens sapiens, for only some of the humans who lived after about 150,000 years ago, and it was not until about 30,000 years ago that we alone came to constitute humanity.(9)
Measuring variations in mitochondrial DNA in different populations today, scientists have concluded that all humans are descended from one common female ancestor who lived in Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago--the hypothetical "Eve." (75)
A long childhood is considered one of things that separate so-called modern humans from the first Homo sapiens and older human species, such as Homo erectus. Now a study of a 160,000-year-old early Homo sapiens child found in North Africa may change how early—and where—we think modern humans arose. European researchers used x-ray imaging to study the growth patterns of teeth in the juvenile fossil found in Morocco. Similar to tree rings, the patterns are a record of aging. What they revealed is that this fossil is the earliest known human with a long childhood, according to Tanya Smith, an anthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. In the teeth the scientists found signs of modern-human development patterns—that is, relatively long periods of slow development and growth. A prolonged childhood is seen as necessary for the type of learning that leads to culture and complex society. The juvenile fossil "showed an equivalent degree of tooth development to living [modern] human children at the same age," the report authors write. Kullmer said that the discovery of a relatively long human childhood about 160,000 years ago points to "a complex social system in early Homo sapiens groups. Probably, social behavior was one of the important survival strategies of early humans."(31)
Primitive humans who inhabited the coast of South Africa 165,000 years ago and lived on a diet rich in shellfish could be the original ancestors of everyone alive today, a study suggests. The people who lived in high caves at Pinnacle Point, overlooking the Indian Ocean near Mossel Bay, harvested and cooked mussels, used red pigment from ground rocks as a form of make-up and made tiny, bladed tools. Experts say they are very likely to be the ancestors of Homo sapiens, the anatomically modern human species which migrated across the world. It is known that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago but scientists are not sure where on the continent they first arose as a distinct species. The latest evidence points to the southern tip of Africa.
Archaeologists working at Pinnacle Point identified stone tools and a red pigment used in ritualistic ceremonies which they believe could only have been used by humans showing "modern behaviour". The coastal community knew how to exploit the protein-rich food source of the sea and could have used this ability to migrate north by gradually foraging further along the coast, possibly continuing outward migration from Africa with the help of beachcombing. "It is possible that this population could be the progenitor population for all modern humans," said Professor Curtis Marean, a palaeo-anthropologist at Arizona State University, who led the study published in the journal Nature.
The dig at Pinnacle Point unearthed the remnants of charred shellfish, intermingled with fine stone tools and ochre pigment, which has been linked with the expression of symbolic behaviour – such as burial ceremonies – in early humans. The tools included small "bladelets" which would have been attached to sticks to form a pointed spear, or lined up like barbs on a dart. Charred shells suggest the shellfish were put on hot embers to open them for eating.
Human pre-history 165,000 years ago coincided with a long period of climate change, dominated by glacial conditions that caused major droughts. Only a few places on the African continent were habitable and food would have been scarce, the professor said. Pinnacle Point would have been a perfect refuge in arid periods when life on the plains was difficult. This theory was supported by genetic analysis which showed the Kung San bush people – the original natives of South Africa – were one of the oldest human populations alive today.
The 'Out of Africa' hypothesis suggests Homo sapiens emerged from Africa in a single migration between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago, from there moving to populate the entire globe. Modern man, characterised by a large, highly-connected brain and with a developed language and culture, first arrived in Asia about 100,000 years ago, then migrated to Australia 50,000 years later. Homo sapiens arrived in Europe 30,000 years ago, before populating the New World (America) about 20,000 years ago. Up to that point, the Americas were uninhibited by humans. Other species of humans, such as Homo erectus and Neanderthals, migrated from Africa much earlier. (39)
Analysis of genetic markers points clearly to their evolving in Africa about 150 kya. Fossil forms similar to modern humans are first found in sites dated around 160 kya in Ethiopia. The timing of the emergence of modern humans may have been a consequence of the challenges of the penultimate ice age (running from 220 to 130 kya. This glacial period was, if anything, more sustained than the most recent one. (145)
Based on their estimated rates of mtDNA mutations, Cann and her colleagues calculated a date for when the African mtDNA lineage began accumulating these mutations: between 120,000 and 150,000 years ago. The researchers proposed that this marked the age of the origin of anatomically modern human beings. (170)
During the early part of the ice age, between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago, Homo sapiens first appeared as Neanderthal in Europe. (70)