History

Who Am I?

Mungo Man

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I'm what's left of Mungo Man, Australia's oldest human, and I've just learned that I'm a lot younger than I'm supposed to be. Instead of being 62,000 years old, I'm closer to a spry 40,000—and so is my special gal, "Mungo Lady." This is a find of no small importance to scientists, as it fits better with the "Out of Africa" hypothesis which holds that human beings migrated from that continent. Until the revised dating, my bones had been used to challenge that theory.

There's a larger takeaway from this latest new finding: Our unfolding, ever-changing understanding of our origins reminds us that knowledge in other areas is similarly provisional and subject to serious revision. That can be a serious challenge to the status quo and helps explain why politics often gets in the way, as in the Kennewick Man case in what's now called the good ol' USA.