Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homo erectus (or georgicus) in the Caucasus at 1.85 Ma-icus

Ferring et. al 2011. PNAS 108:10432-10436. Figure 3
Ferring et al. describe the result of an archaeological test trench at Dmanisi in this PNAS article. They found a pretty standard Mode I lithic assemblage (full disclosure: I am not at all a lithics person). What is remarkable is the fact that the site appears to have been occupied as early as 1.85Ma.  This pushes back the dates for occupation of Eurasia by an erectus-like hominin far enough to rival (and even be a teensy bit older) than the earliest dates for H. erectus/ergaster in Africa. Very cool! The authors go as far as to suggest that H. erectus originated in Eurasia instead of Africa.  Could be, but in my opinion we will need lots more even earlier fossils from Eurasia to support that hypothesis.

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