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Thread: First human fossil record

  1. #1
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    First human fossil record

    We know from fossil records that modern humans emerged several hundred thousand years ago. Does anyone know how I could find research on the discovery of the earliest human fossil?

  2. #2

  3. #3
    One thing I have wondered is that if a human is buried in the ground, how long it will take for the bones to disintegrate or get fossilized? How does the fossil formed anyway? If everything in the ground becomes fossils, then why we do not find a lot of remains from say 100K, 500K, 1M year ago? Is there fossils that we can not find within a specific period? Did they find any fossils (animal or human) that is a million years old in Pyramid area whose climate may be different then? Is fossil process an exact science?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by kmguru View Post
    One thing I have wondered is that if a human is buried in the ground, how long it will take for the bones to disintegrate or get fossilized? How does the fossil formed anyway? If everything in the ground becomes fossils, then why we do not find a lot of remains from say 100K, 500K, 1M year ago? Is there fossils that we can not find within a specific period? Did they find any fossils (animal or human) that is a million years old in Pyramid area whose climate may be different then? Is fossil process an exact science?
    It takes an incredible convergence of conditions for fossilization to take place. The remains can't be left open to the elements, which is the fate of most of them. They can't be disturbed by predators, water movement, plant roots, etc. The chemistry still has to be right or even bones and teeth will eventually decay. This is why there are such huge gaps in the fossil record; it's a wonder that there are as many fossils as there are.

    We do find well-preserved remains in ice, but ice ages wax and wane. The glaciers melt and then the decay resumes. I don't think we've found any that are even 10,000 years old. Bones and teeth are the sturdiest tissues and we have found quite a few of those dated from 10,000 to a million years. That's how we know what Mesolithic humans ate, we find their garbage dumps. That's also how we know how big they were and some of their major health issues.

    I'll let you do your own homework, just look up "fossilization" on Wikipedia and you can get an idea of how quickly or slowly bone tissue is replaced by sediment, producing fossils. I'm certain the number you find is going to have six zeroes. That's at least a million years for rivers to be rerouted and leave the bones exposed to the air, predatory aquatic animals to come along and nosh on them, plants to leach the minerals out of them, landslides to crush them, or a rhinoceros to step on them and squash them to powder.

    Remember that coal, petroleum and natural gas are "fossil fuels." These are organic tissues that underwent a process very similar to the fossilization of bones, but it didn't turn out quite the same way and the shape has been obliterated. (Admittedly a lot of that is fossilized plant tissue and a lot of it is fossilized plankton.)

  5. #5
    Remember that coal, petroleum and natural gas are "fossil fuels.
    While I read such is the case, is it proven or just a theory? The Exxon plant in Wyoming collects a mixture of helium and natural gas. Does that mean plants and animals produced helium too? Or more like it is a byproduct of the primordial soup - Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen?

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