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Did early humans evolve in Europe, not Africa?
11-08-2013, 07:25 PM
Post: #1
Did early humans evolve in Europe, not Africa?
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Did early humans evolve in Europe, not Africa?
14:56 9 September 2009

Homo erectus Evolved in Europe not Africa
[Image: bones-thumb-150x111-46586.jpg]

Andy Coghlan, reporter

Received wisdom that modern humans emerged in Africa then dispersed across the rest of the globe is being challenged by skulls found in Dmanisi, a site in Georgia to the south of Russia.

Analysis of the skulls suggests that instead, small numbers of very early ancestors of modern-day humans may have migrated to Europe, where they evolved into Homo erectus, the immediate predecessor of modern Homo sapiens.

Then, Homo erectus filed back into Africa before eventually making the crucial transition to Homo sapiens. Some 1.8 million years old, the skulls resemble those of early ancestors of Homo erectus.

Reports of the find appear today in British newspapers, following a lecture yesterday by David Lordkipanidze, director general of the Georgia National Museum and head of a long-running archaeological investigation at Dmanisi.

One newspaper, The Independent, cleared the front page for its piece, which was headlined: "A skull that rewrites the history of man".

Another, the Daily Mail, led with the more provocative "Ancient skeletons discovered in Georgia threaten to overturn the theory of human evolution".

Speaking in Guildford, UK, at the annual British Science Festival, Lordkipanidze described the five skulls, which had brains a third the size of modern humans. The only Homo skulls to pre-date them are those of Homo habilis found exclusively in Africa and dating from 1.6 to 2.5 million years ago.

Lordkipanidze suggests that the 1.8-million-year-old skulls from Dmanisi might represent a transitional stage where habilis evolved into erectus, but in Eurasia, not Africa, where the final transition to modern man took place.

But it's not clear whether Lordkipanidze was presenting new data, or simply wrapping up the story so far for a more lay audience at the festival.

New Scientist reported Lordkipanidze's discovery of very similar skulls back in 2002, raising even that far back the idea that the ancestors of modern humans boomeranged in and out of Africa via Eurasia.

Likewise, he reported findings of Dmanisi skulls in Nature in 2007.

Finally, it seems that Spain this year yielded fossils pointing to the same "boomerang" theory of our evolution.

But regardless of how fresh the material is, it's certainly a tale worth telling again.

(Image: Kenneth Garrett / National Geographic / Getty)
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