younger mungo backs “out of africa” theory

Mungo Man, Australia’s oldest known human remains, is 20,000 years younger than previously thought, according to James Bowler of the University of Melbourne and colleagues in the Feb. 20 Nature. Mungo Man was discovered at Lake Mungo in New South Wales in 1974, and though his age has been debated for some time, the most recent estimate put it at 60,000 years. Bowler amassed a team of experts from all over Australia to achieve a final consensus on Mungo Man’s age. Using multiple methods, including an analysis of the sand and soil from the burial site, and four separate dating laboratories, the team came up with a new age of 40,000 years. The previous date was often given out as a serious challenge to the “Out of Africa” theory of human migration, which states that early humans from Africa colonized other parts of the globe around 50,000 years ago. Mungo Man’s revised age is now seen to support that theory.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 2/25/2003.
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