sexta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2011

Modern Humans' First European Tour

Old bones.
This jawbone belonged to a modern human who reached England at least 41,000 years ago.

 Science 4 November 2011:
Vol. 334 no. 6056 p. 576
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6056.576-a

Our species trekked to England's southern coast by 41,000 to 44,000 years ago—about 6000 years earlier than expected, according to new dates for a partial jawbone and teeth described in two reports in this week's issue of Nature.
Researchers have long suspected that our ancestors migrated to Europe from Africa by about 42,000 years ago, based on Aurignacian tools thought to be crafted only by Homo sapiens. But the oldest modern human fossils in Europe, from Oase, Romania, are about 40,000 years old. Now, scientists have concluded that two molars from southern Italy dating to 43,000 to 45,000 years ago belonged to modern humans, making them the oldest known modern humans in Europe. They also now think that transitional tools, once attributed to Neandertals, were made by modern humans instead, according to the report by Stefano Benazzi of the University of Vienna and colleagues. 

Using a refined carbon dating technique called ultrafiltration to redate animal bones associated with the jaw in England, and a separate technique to date shell beads in Italy, the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit put modern humans in Italy and England earlier than those in Romania—and at the same time as Neandertals. “Modern humans got a lot further faster than we thought,” says co-author Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

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