Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Studying Human Origins in South Africa (Image 1)

Cave 13B is one of several caves overlooking the Indian Ocean along the coastline of Pinnacle Point, a sea cliff on the south coast of South Africa. Inside the cave, Curtis Marean of Arizona State University and a team of archeologists uncovered evidence of early human use of shellfish and other marine resources dating to the Middle Pleistocene. The cave is the focus of intense excavation work and has been since 2000.

A later study of the cave in 2009 found evidence that early modern humans used fire in a controlled way to increase the quality and efficiency of stone tools, possibly a sign of the evolution of human brain power.

The fieldwork and laboratory work for this project have been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 1999 (grants BCS 99-12465, BCS 01-30713 and BCS 05-24087).

To learn more about this research, see the NSF Discovery story from October 2007, Seafood Makes Waves: Humans Leave Home. (Date of Image: May 2007)

Credit: South African Coast Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, Paleoecology, Paleoanthropology Project (SACP4), Arizona State University; Curtis W. Marean, Director

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