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1Ma

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§Of World Interest

The Jaramillo reversal was a reversal of the Earth's magnetic field that occurred approximately one million years ago. In the geological time scale it was a "short-term" positive reversal in the then-dominant Matuyama reversed magnetic chronozone; its beginning is widely dated to 990,000 years before the present (BP), and its end to 950,000 BP (though an alternative date of 1.07 million years ago to 990,000 is also found in the scientific literature).

Researchers from the University of Utah who have calculated that 1.2 million years ago, at a time when our ancestors Homo erectus, H. ergaster, and archaic H. sapiens were spreading through Africa, Europe, and Asia, there were probably only about 18,500 individuals capable of breeding in all these species together (PNAS paper here). Pre-humans were an endangered species with a smaller population than today's gorillas and chimpanzees. Researchers scanned two completely sequenced modern human genomes for a type of mobile element called Alu sequences, then compared the nucleotides in these old regions with the overall diversity in the two genomes to estimate differences in effective population size, and thus genetic diversity between modern and early humans. Human geneticist Lynn Jorde says that the diminished genetic diversity one million years ago suggests human ancestors experienced a catastrophic event at that time as devastating as the Toba super-volcano in Indonesia

§Africa

A child's finger bone uncovered in a cave in Siberia gives evidence to a unique species of human. According to mitochondrial DNA it appears that this group migrated out of Africa about this time.

Possible first use of fire

Evidence the form of ash and bone fragments recovered from Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa. Sediments suggest frequent, controlled fires were lit on the site.

Stone tools found at Wonderwerk Cave indicate the ancestor in question may have been Homo erectus, a species whose existence has been documented as far back as 1.8 million years ago.

§Emmigration

Historical migration of human populations begins with the movement of Homo erectus out of Africa across Eurasia about this time.

§Britain

Happisburgh, Norfolk on the River Thames is believed to be the earliest settlement of pre-humans.

§Denisovans

Research on an individual found in Spain showed that Denisovans last shared a common ancestor with Homo Sapiens and Neandertals about this time.

§Sources

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