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Imagine That! - Movin' On Up

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! - Movin' On Up

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

The earliest humans were hardly what you'd call "cave potatoes." Now it turns out they really got a move on!

Imagine that!

(SOUND: primeval music, stone hitting stone)

Majuangou, north China. Nearly 1.7 million years ago. Hominins--early humans--are fashioning stone tools.

(SOUND: tape in fast forward, segue to archeological digging, sifting)

A team of scientists uncovers remnants of those tools buried deep in the earth's soil. Paleoarcheologist Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution explains:

Potts: "The site that we're working on in north China happens to have the earliest evidence of stone tools anywhere in eastern Asia."

The tools also happen to provide the earliest evidence yet of human presence in that part of the world.

Scientists believe early humans originated in Africa, then hit the road and migrated across Asia. The Majuangou artifacts in northeast Asia, far from Africa, are only slightly younger than artifacts discovered in western Asia, much closer to Africa. So it seems once those hominins got moving, they really spread out fast. In fact, the new evidence suggests they reached east Asia 340,000 years earlier than previously estimated.

And there you have it: early humans -- movin' on up to the east side. Maybe not to a deluxe apartment, but they were found in some pretty nice digs.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

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