The late Stone Age may have had an earlier start in Africa than previously thought - by some 20,000 years. new analysis of artifacts from a cave in South Africa reveals that the residents were carving bone tools, using pigments, making beads and even using poison 44,000 years ago. These sorts of artifacts had previously been linked to the San culture, which was thought to have emerged around 20,000 years ago. "Our research proves that the Later Stone Age emerged in South Africa far earlier than has been believed and occurred at about the same time as the arrival of modern humans in Europe," study researcher Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, said in a statement.
Later Stone Age Got Earlier Start in South Africa Than Thought Science Daily - July 30, 2012
The Later Stone Age emerged in South Africa more than 20,000 years earlier than previously believed - about the same time humans were migrating from Africa to the European continent, says a new international study led by the University of Colorado Boulder. The study shows the onset of the Later Stone Age in South Africa likely began some 44,000 to 42,000 years ago, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and lead study author. The new dates are based on the use of precisely calibrated radiocarbon dates linked to organic artifacts found at Border Cave in the Lebombo Mountains on the border of South Africa and Swaziland containing evidence of hominid occupation going back 200,000 years.
Teeth and jaw are from 'earliest Europeans' BBC - November 2, 2011
Worn ancient teeth and a jaw fragment unearthed in the UK and Italy have something revealing to say about how modern humans conquered the globe. The finds in Kents Cavern, Devon, and Grotta del Cavallo, Apulia, have been confirmed as the earliest known remains of Homo sapiens in Europe. Careful dating suggests they are more than 41,000 years old, and perhaps as much as 45,000 years old in the case of the Italian "baby teeth".
Early human fossils unearthed in Ukraine BBC - June 21, 2011
Ancient remains uncovered in Ukraine represent some of the oldest evidence of modern people in Europe, experts have claimed. Archaeologists found human bones and teeth, tools, ivory ornaments and animal remains at the Buran-Kaya cave site. The 32,000-year-old fossils bear cut marks suggesting they were defleshed as part of a post-mortem ritual.
Archaeologists discover Britain's 'oldest house' BBC - August 11, 2010
Humans' early arrival in Britain BBC - July 8, 2010
Stone Age Europeans Get Older and Colder Wired - July 8, 2010
"First European" Confirmed to Be 1.2 Million Years Old National Geographic - March 27, 2008
First Europeans Came From Asia, Not Africa, Tooth Study Suggests National Geographic - August 6, 2007
Fossil Tooth Belonged to Earliest Western European, Experts Say National Geographic - July 2, 2007
Skull Is First Fossil Proof of Human Migration Theory, Study Says National Geographic - January 13, 2007
Clues found for early Europeans BBC - January 13, 2007
Stone Tools Reveal Humans Lived in Britain 700,000 Years Ago National Geographic - December 17, 2005
Early Humans Settled India Before Europe, Study Suggests National Geographic - November 14, 2005
Prehistoric Bones Point to First Modern-Human Settlement in Europe National Geographic - May 19, 2005
DNA Study Traces European Ancestors to 10 Men
November 10, 2000 - AP
About 80 percent of Europeans arose from primitive hunters who arrived about 40,000 years ago, endured the long ice age and then expanded rapidly to dominate the continent, a new study shows. Researchers analyzing the Y chromosome taken from 1,007 men from 25 different locations in Europe found a pattern that suggests four out of five of the men shared a common male ancestor about 40,000 years ago.
Peter A. Underhill, a senior researcher at the Stanford Genome Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif., and co-author of the study, said the research supports conclusions from archaeological, linguistic and other DNA evidence about the settlement of Europe by ancient peoples. When we can get different lines of evidence that tell the same story, then we feel we are telling the true history of the species. The researchers used the Y chromosome in the study because its rare changes establish a pattern that can be traced back hundreds of generations, thus helping to plot the movement of ancient humans. The Y chromosome is inherited only by sons from their fathers. When sperm carrying the Y chromosome fertilizes an egg it directs the resulting baby to be a male. An X chromosome from the father allows a fertilized egg to be female.
"The Y chromosome has about 60 million DNA base pairs. Changes in those base pairs happen infrequently, but they occur often enough to establish patterns that can be used to trace the ancestry of people. Researchers looking at the 1,007 chromosome samples from Europe identified 22 specific markers that formed a specific pattern of change. Underhill said the researchers found that about 80 percent of all European males shared a single pattern, suggesting they had a common ancestor thousands of generations ago.
"The basic pattern had some changes that apparently developed among people who once shared a common ancestor and then were isolated for many generations. This scenario supports other studies about the Paleolithic European groups. Those studies suggest that a primitive, stone-age human came to Europe, probably from Central Asia and the Middle East, in two waves of migration beginning about 40,000 years ago. Their numbers were small and they lived byhunting animals and gathering plant food. They used crudely sharpened stones and fire.
"About 24,000 years ago, the last ice age began, with mountain-sized glaciers moving across most of Europe. The Paleolithic Europeans retreated before the ice, finding refuge for hundreds of generations in three areas: what is now Spain, the Balkans and the Ukraine.
"When the glaciers melted, about 16,000 years ago, the Paleolithic tribes resettled the rest of Europe. Y chromosome mutations occurred among people in each of the ice age refuges, said Underhill. He said the research shows a pattern that developed in Spain is now most common in northwest Europe, while the Ukraine pattern is mostly in Eastern Europe and the Balkan pattern is most common in Central Europe.
"About 8,000 years ago a more advanced people, the Neolithic, migrated to Europe from the Middle East, bringing with them a new Y chromosome pattern and a new way of life - agriculture. About 20 percent of Europeans now have the Y chromosome pattern from this migration.
"Archaeological digs in European caves clearly show that before 8,000 years ago, most humans lived by gathering and hunting. After that, there are traces of grains and other agricultural products. Earlier studies had traced European migration patterns using the DNA contained in the mitochondria, a key part of each cell. This type is DNA is passed down from mother to daughter."
Antonio Torroni, a researcher at the University of Urbino, Italy, who first proposed that early humans retreated to Spain during the ice age, said in a separate Science report that the Y chromosome study fits completely' with the mitochondria studies.
"The Y chromosome studies are also consistent with genetic studies showing a broader picture of human migration. In general, studies show that modern humans first arose in Africa about 100,000 years ago and thousands of years later began a long series of migrations, he said. Some groups migrated eastward and humans are known to have existed in Australia about 60,000 years ago. Other groups crossed the land bridge into the Middle East. Humans appeared in Central Asia about 50,000 years ago. From there, the theory goes, some migrated west, arriving in Europe about 40,000 years ago. Later, some migrated east, across the Bering Straits, to the Americas."