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Archaeologists Uncover a Lost World and Extinct Ecosystem

Archaeological sites on the far southern shores of South Africa hold the world’s richest records for the behavioral and cultural origins of our species. At this location, scientists have discovered the earliest evidence for symbolic behavior, complex pyrotechnology, projectile weapons, and the first use of foods from the sea. The Institute of Human Origins’ field study site at Pinnacle Point sits at the center of this record, both geographically and scientifically, having contributed much of the evidence for these milestones on the evolutionary road to being a modern human. The scientists working on these sites, led by institute Associate Director Curtis Marean, have always faced a dilemma in understanding the context of these evolutionary milestones — much of the landscape used by these ancient people is now submerged undersea and thus poorly known to us.

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