Newswise – When the bones of two early humans were found in 1967 nearKibish, Ethiopia, they were thought to be 130,000 years old.A few years ago, researchers found 154,000- to160,000-year-old human bones at Herto, Ethiopia. Now, a newstudy of the 1967 fossil site indicates the earliest knownmembers of our species, Homo sapiens, roamed Africa about195,000 years ago. Geologist Frank Brown says, “This meansthat modern humans roamed the world for many years beforedeveloping any cultural artifacts.” What changed to make ussuddenly become “human?”

Brown says that pushing the emergence of Homo sapiens fromabout 160,000 years ago back to about 195,000 years ago “issignificant because the cultural aspects of humanity in mostcases appear much later in the record?only 50,000 yearsago?which would mean 150,000 years of Homo sapiens withoutcultural stuff, such as evidence of eating fish, ofharpoons, anything to do with music (flutes and that sort ofthing), needles, even tools. This stuff all comes in verylate, except for stone knife blades, which appeared between50,000 and 200,000 years ago, depending on whom you believe.”

Along with geologist Ian McDougall, Brown dated mineralcrystals in volcanic ash layers above and below layers ofriver sediments that contain the early human bones. Theyconclude the fossils are much older than a 104,000-year-oldvolcanic layer and very close in age to a 196,000-year-oldlayer. Brown says, “These are the oldest well-dated fossilsof modern humans (Homo sapiens) currently known anywhere inthe world.”

Brown says that pushing the emergence of Homo sapiens fromabout 160,000 years ago back to about 195,000 years ago “issignificant because the cultural aspects of humanity in mostcases appear much later in the record ? only 50,000 yearsago ? which would mean 150,000 years of Homo sapiens withoutcultural stuff, such as evidence of eating fish, ofharpoons, anything to do with music (flutes and that sort ofthing), needles, even tools. This stuff all comes in verylate, except for stone knife blades, which appeared between50,000 and 200,000 years ago, depending on whom you believe.”

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