Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dating Humans

This is cool – paleontologists have dated human fossils of modern homo sapiens found in Africa to 195,000 years BCE. That’s significantly older than anyone thought modern humans were around.

The findings were announced yesterday by a research team led by Dr. Ian McDougall of the Australian National University in Canberra and are being described in detail in today's issue of the journal Nature.

Dr. McDougall, a geologist, and his colleagues reported that a re-examination of the sediments in which the fossils of two individuals were found and the use of more reliable dating methods showed that they lived 195,000 years ago, give or take 5,000 years, "making them the earliest well-dated anatomically modern humans yet described."

I love this stuff.

I started out majoring in anthropology – well, I started out majoring in forestry, but I switched to anthropology in my second semester – and I’d probably still be doing it except I really hate the idea of doing all that digging in the heat. I like reading about fossils, but the actual work of finding them? Especially since most of them are to be found in hot, dry climates? (I hate summer.)

So I switched to English in my junior year, since my university didn’t have a classics major.
It makes perfect sense.

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