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Tracing humanity's African ancestry may mean rewriting 'out of Africa' dates
Date:12/13/2012

early Homo sapiens in Europe who appeared around 40,000 years ago," she said. "But we now know that as far as back as around 200,000 years ago, Africa was inhabited by people who were already physically exactly like us today or really close to being the same as us. All of a sudden, it's not Europe in this time period that's really important, it's Africa."

Engaging community yields co-operation, opportunity

Along with its scientific significance, Willoughby's work may be a linchpin to potential economic growth for the region. Since 2005, when a local cultural officer showed her the sites, she has been sharing information about her research with local citizens, schools and governmentopening up opportunities for more research and co-operation. She keeps the region informed of the team's findings through posters distributed around Iringa, and has asked for and accepted assistance from local scholars. Now the community is also looking for her help in establishing the historic sites as a tourist attraction that will benefit the region.

Willoughby says she feels fortunate to have the support of the Tanzanian people. She tells people it is a shared history she is uncovering, something she is honoured to be able to do.

"They're telling me, 'You're putting Iringa on the map,'" she said. "As long as they keep letting me work there, and keep letting the people working with me work there, we'll be happy."


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Contact: Jamie Hanlon
jamie.hanlon@ualberta.ca
780-492-9214
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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