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From 40,000BC to 20,000BC

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20,000BC: Some scientists believe that ancient people from Siberia crossed the Bering land bridge about this time and began their southward migration into the Americas.

20,000 years ago: New Guinea: An Australia Museum researcher is Dr. Robin Torrence, who works on the 20,000 year-old obsidian trade of New Britain in Papua New Guinea; perhaps the world's oldest-known maritime trade. (Reported by 2 February 2002)

20,000BC: Date for earliest known cooking oven, found in the Ukraine. (Ash-pit style cooking). (By 2500BC: Sumerians were first to develop cooking ranges on which pots and pans could be placed for a variety of cooking purposes from 2500BC.) (James/Thorpe).

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20,000BC: Earliest date for garments sewn from animal skins using eyed needles, the needles made from bone. Between 7000BC-6000BC, at Catal Huyuk, men wear animals skins, evidently pink leopard skin, plus hats of the same material.

20,000BC: Date for a bracelet of Mezin, South Russia, carved from a single piece of mammoth ivory. (James/Thorpe).

20,000BC: Earliest mining, flint mines of Australia, at Koonalda.

By 4000BC, when surface-available flint was used up, sub-surface flint-mining began, in Western Europe. But copper mining began at Rudna Glav, in Serbia, by 4500BC. Miners used antler picks. (James/Thorpe). Balkans area became a major source of copper.

About 20,000BC: Paleolithic Man uses the needle for sewing.

20,000BC: Earlier than 20,000BC, Man in Siberia, then to America. In Tasmania, Australia, are the Tasmanian Negritos.

By 20,000BC: Australia is certainly settled, with Tasmania and New Guinea joined by land bridges. Occupation coinciding with later part of past glaciation, lower sea level, cooler climate and less evaporation, less arid country.

20,000BC: Old Melanesia as a continent embraces Australia plus Tasmania and New Guinea, (Salhulland), and Indonesia as a non-archipelago, Sundaland. Most sites re human life about this time in Australia are in southern NSW and in the south west generally.

21,000-18,000BC: Last Glacial Maximum on Earth.

22,000BC: Appearance of "Venus figurines" across Europe, from the Central Russian plain to the Pyrenees - rather like a clay statue from Dolni Vestonice.

23,000 years ago: Evidence arises of human occupation at Cave Bay Cave on present-day Hunter Island off the north-west coast of Tasmania, at a time when Tasmania has just been joined as part of a continuous land bridge connecting it to Wilson's Promontory of today's Victorian coastline.

23,000BC: A 2018 finding is that humans have just begun using fish hooks. And BTW, the only other animal that reportedly by 2018 developed an idea of the hook is the crow in Europe.

23,000BC-16,000BC: Northern and Central Europe are frigid and uninhabitable. A glacial maximum forces people into two directions, one to southern France, one to the Central Russian Plain. Life was impossible between the Scandinavian glacier and the Alpine glacier. The ice reached its maximum about 16,000BC. Southwestern France carried mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, horse, bison, aurochs, deer and antelope, as did the river valleys of the Russian Plain. It seems significant that cave art appeared in this part of France, but not in Russia, since there were no caves. The people of Russia do seem to have had different designs for huts made of mammoth tusks, however. (Shreeve, Neandertal)

24,000-30,000 years ago: Archaeology at the Lake Mungo site, Australia, finds evidence of use of stone tools, hearths containing animal bones and shell middens of freshwater mussels. Especially, the skeleton-fragments of a young woman who had been cremated, her bones than smashed and buried in a shallow pit. Evidence for human occupation also arises for about 37,000 years ago in the Willandra and Lower Darling River areas. The same for river terrace areas near today's Perth, Western Australia.

25,000BC, First religious relics and altars in Spain.

25,640BC: In 1986, in Czechoslovakian province of Moravia, near a village named Dolni Vestonice, are found three ancient human teenagers in a common grave. Two seem to be male, and one female. Archaeologists due to the demeanour of the bodies dream up various scenarios about the manner of death. The artefacts anyway belong to a period known as the Gravettian/Upper Paleolithic period, which has its own "industrial style". The areas nearby provide many carved and moulded images of animals and men, strange engravings, personal ornaments and decorated graves, things impossible only a few thousand years before. What has happened in the interim? Representational art seems to arise from nowhere. At a German site, Vogelherd, arises an ivory horse carved about 30,00BC. It seems to be "the first representational horse". Oddly, the Middle East is where such forms of art appears. A grave site near Moscow, named Sunghir, about the same age as Dolni Vsetonice, reveals the bodies of three people with dozens of bracelets, necklaces, painted pendants, and ten thousand ivory beads; each of which took about an hour to make. Similar bead work although of a different style, has been found in France dated about 31,000BC. (Shreeve, Neandertal)

26,000 years ago: Evidence of human occupation arises at Tabon Cave on Palawan in the Philippines.

27,000BP: First appearances of weaving/fabrics.

27,000BC, earliest evidence of shamanistic art, may be first appearance of “spiritual” views?

27,000BC, Gravettian people roam between Southern Russia, and Spain. 22,000 from 29,000, on semi-frozen landscape. Maybe the first weaving about now.

Circa 28,000BC-26,000BC: Possible dwindling of populations of Neandertals to nothing. Leaving just one species of humanity to the rest of the world – ourselves, homo sapiens. (Shreeve, Neandertal)

28,000 years ago: Evidence of human occupation arises at a cave site called Kilu north of the now-island of Bougainville, as part of the North Solomons Islands chain. If so, people had travelled across water about 180km to arrive there, from New Ireland. By about now, or earlier, it is thought that the ancestors of modern Australian Aboriginals were also the ancestors of Papua-New Guineans, of the Melanesian people of West Irian Jaya and of the Solomon Islanders.

28,000BC: First human migration into America may have begun by now, due to examination of sites in New Mexico, Chile and Brazil. Some populations (re work with mitochondrial DNA) may even be traced as far as 42,000 or 21,000 years ago. If so, the next wave of migration into the Americas came with Clovis people dating around 9500BC. (Shreeve, Neandertal)

29,000BC: The Chatelperronian surprise: It had been thought that in northern Burgundy, in limestone caves about 100 miles northeast of Paris, by a river named Cure, near the hamlet of Arcy, lived modern humans. The caves are named after discovery in them of the remains of animals now extinct in the area, reindeer, Hyena, Bison, Lion and Bear. The Cave of the Reindeer seemed to be full of artefacts of the Chatelperronian "industrial style", an odd mixture of the flake-based Mousterian tradition and some of the blade-based Aurignacian. These seemed to be the work of early Cro-Magnon Man. But in 1979, in another French cave called Saint-Cesaire, a Neandertal skeleton turned up surrounded by Chatelperronian artefacts. So the Chatelperronian style may not have marked the beginning of a new era, but the end of an old one - the Neandertals. Which would mean that the Neandertals lasted around 10,000 years after the arrival of the first "Aurignacians", who originated in eastern Europe. Chatelperronian and Aurignacian artefacts coincide in French and Spanish caves from from 33,000BC. It appears, the Neandertals and moderns co-existed in France-Spain, as they did in the Levant region. Did the Neandertals last till about 26,000BC? (Shreeve, Neandertal)

30,000 years ago: How evolution spurted: Examiners of fossils can now report that about 30,000 years ago, people "started living longer". (No explanation why). This fuelled a population explosion. Women could continue reproducing even as their elder daughters reached child-bearing age. As more experienced women lived longer, their contributions to their extended family grew more and more valuable. ["The Grandma syndrome"] (Reported in world press, 10 July 2004 derived from recent report on Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences)

30,000 years ago: Head Lice on humans: (Item by John von Radowitz, London) - A study of lice has shed new light on a topic experts on human evolution have been scratching their heads over for decades. Research on the genes of head lice indicates our ancestors were in direct physical contact with at least one extinct species of human about 23,000 to 30,000 years ago. The study found that people attract two genetically distinct types of head lice. One is found worldwide and evolved on the ancestors of our species, Homo sapiens. The other, now found only in the Americas, evolved on another early human species and jumped to Homo sapiens during fights, sex, sharing of clothes or even as a result of cannibalism. The study's leader, Professor Dale Clayton, of the University of Utah, said: "We've discovered the `smoking louse' that reveals direct contact between two early species of humans.

"Kids today have head lice that evolved on two species of cavemen. One species led to us. The other species went extinct." Ancestors of Homo sapiens and other ancient human species diverged about 1.2 million years ago. The new study shows that two similar-looking but genetically different strains of head lice split apart 1.18 million years ago. This suggests that each infested a different kind of early human.

However, genes from both types are found on people today. It seems that after infesting one ancient human species - probably Homo erectus - for about a million years, the second louse type jumped onto Homo sapiens. The discovery is surprising because Homo erectus was thought to have been extinct for hundreds of thousands of years. It would appear from the new study that Homo sapiens and Homo erectus had contact between 25,000 and 30,000 years ago. (Press Association - Reported Sydney Morning Herald, 6 October 2004)

30,000, to 20,000BC, more ancestors of Europeans appear in Europe, before the peak of the last major glaciation,

30,000BC, Vela supernova probably visible, would have outshone the moon, from about 1300 light years away, did it affect people? As 30,000BC, oldest star map depicts Orion the Hunter, in Ach Valley, Germany. Oldest coal mine at Landek, Czechoslovakia. Oldest known necklace at Mandu Mandu, Australia.

30,000 years ago: How evolution spurted: Examiners of fossils can now report that about 30,000 years ago, people started living longer. (No explanation why). This fuelled a population explosion. Women could continue reproducing even as their elder daughters reached child-bearing age. As more experienced women lived longer, their contributions to their extended family grew more and more valuable. [The Grandma syndrome] (Reported in world press, 10 July 2004 and derived from recent reports on Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences [US])

30,000BP: Use of so-called fertility figurines.

Get ready for the Denisova Cave - 30,000BC

story accessed on 2-9-2011 - DNA identifies new ancient human dubbed 'X-woman' - By Paul Rincon Science reporter, BBC News headlines

Scientists have identified a previously unknown type of ancient human through analysis of DNA from a finger bone unearthed in a Siberian cave. The extinct "hominin" (human-like creature) lived in Central Asia between 48,000 and 30,000 years ago.

An international team has sequenced genetic material from the fossil showing that it is distinct from that of Neanderthals and modern humans. Details of the find, dubbed "X-woman", have been published in Nature journal.

Ornaments were found in the same ground layer as the finger bone, including a bracelet. Professor Chris Stringer, human origins researcher at London's Natural History Museum, called the discovery "a very exciting development".

Whoever carried this mitochondrial genome out of Africa about a million years ago is some new creature that has not been on our radar screens so far.

"This new DNA work provides an entirely new way of looking at the still poorly-understood evolution of humans in central and eastern Asia."

The discovery raises the intriguing possibility that three forms of human - Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and the species represented by X-woman - could have met each other and interacted in southern Siberia. The tiny fragment of bone from a fifth finger was uncovered by archaeologists working at Denisova Cave in Siberia's Altai Mountains in 2008. An international team of researchers extracted mitochondrial DNA from the bone and compared the genetic sequence with those from modern humans and Neanderthals.

Origin unknown

Mitochondrial DNA comes from the cell's powerhouses and is passed down the maternal line only. The analysis carried out by Johannes Krause from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues revealed the human from Denisova last shared a common ancestor with modern humans and Neanderthals about one million years ago.

This is known as the divergence date; essentially, when this human's ancestors split away from the line that eventually led to Neanderthals and ourselves. The Neanderthal and modern human evolutionary lines diverged much later, around 500,000 years ago. This shows that the individual from Denisova is the representative of a previously unknown human lineage that derives from a hitherto unrecognised migration out of Africa.

"Whoever carried this mitochondrial genome out of Africa about a million years ago is some new creature that has not been on our radar screens so far," said co-author Professor Svante Paabo, also from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

The divergence date of one million years is too young for the Denisova hominin to have been a descendent of Homo erectus, which moved out of Africa into Asia some two million years ago. And it is too old to be a descendent of Homo heidelbergensis, another ancient human thought to have originated around 650,000 years ago. However, for now, the researchers have steered away from describing the specimen as a new species.

Dr Krause said the ground layer in which the Denisova hominin fragment was found contain tools which are similar to those made by modern humans in Europe.

Slice of time

"We have ornaments, there is a bracelet, so there are several elements in the layers that are usually associated with modern human archaeology," he told BBC News. "That's quite interesting, but of course, it is hard to prove that the bone is strongly associated to this archaeology, because it is possible that bones could have moved within the site. "We are also not sure how exactly the excavation was done. It could have come from a deeper layer, so that's hard to say."

Professor Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, said the find presented a number of questions, such as to what extent culture could continue to be used as a proxy for different prehistoric human groups. Referring to his research on Neanderthals and modern humans in southern Iberia, he told BBC News: "The assumption is that when one group - the moderns - arrives the other group disappears. Here you have a very clear example of co-existence for long periods. "Where is the rule that says you can have only one species in an area? Especially if they're at low density... the implications are big."

The research contributes to a more complex picture that has been emerging of humankind during the Late Pleistocene, the period when modern humans left Africa and started to colonise the rest of the world.

Professor Finlayson has previously argued: "A time slice at a point in the late Pleistocene would reveal a range of human populations spread across parts of Africa, Eurasia and Oceania. "Some would have been genetically linked to each other, behaving as sub-species, while the more extreme populations may well have behaved as good species with minimal or no interbreeding."

It was long known that modern humans overlapped with Neanderthals in Europe, apparently for more than 10,000 years. But in 2004, researchers discovered that a dwarf species of human, dubbed "The Hobbit", was living on the Indonesian island of Flores until 12,000 years ago - long after modern humans had colonised the region.

Difficult classification

Neanderthals appear to have been living at Okladnikov Cave in the Altai Mountains some 40,000 years ago. And a team led by Professor Anatoli Derevianko, from the Russian Academy of Sciences, has also found evidence of a modern human presence in the region at around the same time.

Professor Stringer commented: "Another intriguing question is whether there might have been overlap and interaction between not only Neanderthals and early moderns in Asia, but also, now, between either of those lineages and this newly-recognised one. "The distinctiveness of the mitochondrial DNA patterns so far suggests that there was little or no interbreeding, but more extensive data will be needed from other parts of the genome, or from the fossils, for definitive conclusions to be reached."

Experts have been wondering whether X-woman might have links with known fossil humans from Asia, which have controversial classifications.

"Certain enigmatic Asian fossils dated between 250,000-650,000 years ago such as Narmada (in India), and Yunxian, Dali and Jinniushan (in China) have been considered as possible Asian derivatives of Homo heidelbergensis, so they are also potential candidates for this mystery non-erectus lineage," said Prof Stringer. "However, there are other and younger fragmentary fossils such as the Denisova ones themselves, and partial skulls from Salkhit in Mongolia and Maba in China, which have been difficult to classify, and perhaps they do signal a greater complexity than we have appreciated up to now."

Other experts agreed that while the Siberian specimen may be a new species, this has yet to be shown.

"We really don't know," Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told the Associated Press news agency. Dr Tattersall, who wasn't involved in the new research, added: "The human family tree has got a lot of branchings. It's entirely plausible there are a lot of branches out there we don't know about."

Paul.Rincon-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk :::::::::::::::::

31,000 years ago: Evidence of human occupation arises at Leang Burung 2 cave on Sulawesi (Celebes) re use of stone tools.

32,000 years ago: Evidence arises of human occupation in south-western Australia at a cave known as Devil's Lair. Stone and bone artefacts, superimposed hearths, smashed or charred bones of hunted kangaroos and wallabies.

Australia is settled, for certain, by 40,000BC-25,000BC. The evidence is, Australia has never had but Homo Sapiens populating it. Australians tended to use wooden, not stone tools.

33,000BC-28,000BC: Signs appear in Europe a new, "explosively" energetic human culture, termed The Upper Paleolithic. Tools are more varied and sophisticated, made of stone, antler or bone. Cave paintings indicate an awareness of symbolism, as do carved figurines of animals. Beads are worn as ornament. The first signs are evident also of modern-looking anatomy; a high vertical forehead, lack of pronounced browbridges, a well-defined chin, a domed braincase, and a more lightly-built frame, certainly more lightly-built than Neandertal anatomy. Such human specimens might be termed, Cro-Magnon Man. Just why this apparent evolutionary spurt occurred about now is still not well understood. (See Shreeve, Neandertal)

36,000BC: In 1972, archaeologists Peter Beaumont and John Vogel announce new findings from radiocarbon dating of artefacts from five South African sites, and turn ideas on their head. They suggest that rather than the Middle Stone Age in Africa beginning around 36,00BC, this is when it ends! Two sites in South Africa so-considered are Border Cave and Klasies River Mouth. (Shreeve, Neandertal)

37,000-40,000 years ago: Date for earliest levels for human occupation in the whole of mainland southeast Asia as at an excavated limestone cave of Lang Rongrien in peninsular Thailand. Stone tools in use were of the Hoabinian type (small retouched flakes and scrapers). Evidence arises also for human occupation of Australia and New Guinea for the very same period.

38,000 years ago: In 1972, Alexander Marshack suggests that by 38,000BC, people in Northern Europe were precisely observing winter and summer solstices. (Date from Hancock and Faiia).

40,000BC, Ancient footprints found in Mexico,

40,000, 30,000BC, another explosion of sophisticated art activity if an earlier date fails to satisfy. Boats appear about north Australia, humans sail from Eurasia to Australia/New Guinea then a single landmass, otherwise, as seems hard to believe, boats don't appear till 11,000BC in the Mediterranean.

40,000 years ago: In the Sundaland area of the Malay Archipelago there have been found artefacts and evidence of human occupation at Niah Cave of Borneo.

41,000BC: The Aurignacian Industrial period in the Balkans (Upper Paleolithic), where people make "beaked" burins, carved-bone points for projectiles with shafts, large and "unbeautiful" blades. By 38,000BC, this industrial style has reached Spain. In a few thousand years, it has covered Europe, with regional adaptations evident. It's as though "culture" has become an epidemic. Is it related also to greater sophistication of language? Also about 41,000BC, is the earliest-known Aurignacian area, once excavated by Polish archaeologist Janusz Kozlowski. It became famous for its Upper Paleolithic Culture (including fine flint tools), which had supplanted the earlier Mousterian culture in the same area. There has also been trade in different kinds of stone - evidence of some kind of far-flung or distance-crossing cultural contacts between different groups. A big theme is noticeable by now - personal identity. (Shreeve, Neandertal)

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Many notes above are from: Robert Ardrey, The Hunting Hypothesis: A Personal Conclusion Concerning the Evolutionary Nature of Man. Fontana/Collins, 1976.

Compiler's note: Few of the titles cited here can begin to explain the settlement of Australia's Aboriginal people, which began 40,000-60,000 years ago, if not earlier. Here, Australian history in the present context remains a conundrum for world science.

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