Challenging evolutionary dogma: Is early human history solely linked to the southern African coast rich in marine resources?

Credit: World Seas
Credit: World Seas

The origins of modern humans and modern human cognition are thought to lie in southern Africa, as suggested by numerous archaeological findings from the southern tip of the continent. Many of these archaeological sites are located near the coast. 

This led to the widespread view that the evolution of complex symbolic and technological behaviour of Homo sapiens presupposing cognitive abilities very similar to ours today, were linked to the sea and it´s rich marine resources such as shellfish, fish and and marine mammals. 

However, new archaeological findings in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa (the “African Outback”) now shed new light on human prehistory and the evolution of modern human behaviour.


“In the present study we analysed findings from a rock shelter more than 600 kilometres inland and determined an age of 105,000 years for the archaeological layers and artefacts. They prove behavioural patterns equivalent to those found near the coast at the same time,” explains [geologist] Michael Meyer. 

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“Our findings from this rock shelter show that overly simplified models for the origins of our species are no longer acceptable. Evidence suggests many regions across the African continent were involved, the Kalahari being just one,” says the study’s lead author, Jayne Wilkins. 

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