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Woolsey DD- 77 - History

Woolsey DD- 77 - History

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Woolsey I

(Destroyer No. 77: dp. 1,154 (n.); l. 314’4 1/2; b. 30'11 1/4," (wl.), dr. 9'8 1/2" (aft), s. 35.33 k., cpl. 131, a. 4 4", 2 1-pdrs., 12 21" tt., 2 dct., 1 Y-guncl. Wickes)

The first Woolsey (Destroyer No. 77) was laid down on 1 November 1917 at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works; launched on 17 September 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Elise Campau Wells; and commissioned on 30 September 1918, Lt. Comdr. Frederick V. McNair in command.

After trials out of Bath and outfitting at the Boston Navy Yard and the Newport Torpedo Station, Woolsey headed for New York on 9 October to join Virginia (Battleship No. 13) before sailing for Europe. On 13 October, she and the battleship departed New York harbor in the screen of Convoy HX-52. After a relatively uneventful voyage, the convoy was turned over to a British escort force on the 22d. Woolsey then set course for Buncrana, located in the far northern portion of Ireland, and arrived there on 23 October. Two days later, she departed Buncrana and stood down the Irish Sea en route to Ponta Delgada in the Azores. After fueling at Ponta Delgada on the 30th, the destroyer continued her voyage home and reentered New York on 5 November. After about a month at New York, during which time hostilities ended under the armistice of 11 November, Woolsey left New York on her way back to Europe to join the American naval contingent assigned there for postwar duty. She arrived in Brest, France, on 20 December and reported for duty to the Commander, Naval Forces Europe.

For the next seven months, she performed various missions for America's naval establishment in Europe. Her primary mission consisted of runs between Brest and ports in southern England—notably Plymouth and Southampton—transporting passengers and mail. On 11 March 1919, she was one of the four American destroyers to escort George Washington into Brest, France, when that ship arrived with President Woodrow Wilson embarked. After a four-month return to cross channel runs between England and France, Woolsey was honored a second time when she was assigned duty as one of George Washington's escorts for President Wilson's return voyage to the United States from the Versailles peace conference. She departed Brest late in June 1919 in company with George Washington and arrived in Hampton Roads on 8 July.

Ten days later, Woolsey put to sea again bound for a new assignment—the Pacific Fleet. She reached Panama on the 24th, transited the canal, and headed for maneuvers in the Hawaiian Islands. At the completion of those maneuvers, she returned to the continental United States at San Diego. On 31 May 1920, the destroyer was placed out of commission at the Mare Island Navy Yard—probably for an extensive overhaul because she was recommissioned again on 20 October 1920. For the remainder of her relatively brief career, Woolsey operated with the Pacific Fleet along the western coast of North America. While operating off the Pacific coast of Panama near Coiba Island early on the morning of 26 February 1921, Woolsey was cut in half during a collision with the merchant vessel, SS Steel Inventor, and sank.

American Revolution begins at Battle of Lexington

At about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, a shot was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from England to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against the Patriot arsenal at Concord and capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a military action by the British for some time, and upon learning of the British plan, Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes were ordered to set out to rouse the militiamen and warn Adams and Hancock. When the British troops arrived at Lexington, a group of militiamen were waiting. The Patriots were routed within minutes, but warfare had begun, leading to calls to arms across the Massachusetts countryside.

When the British troops reached Concord at about 7 a.m., they found themselves encircled by hundreds of armed Patriots. They managed to destroy the military supplies the Americans had collected but were soon advanced against by a gang of minutemen, who inflicted numerous casualties. Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, the overall commander of the British force, ordered his men to return to Boston without directly engaging the Americans. As the British retraced their 16-mile journey, their lines were constantly beset by Patriot marksmen firing at them from behind trees, rocks, and stone walls. At Lexington, Captain Parker’s militia had its revenge, killing several British soldiers as the Red Coats hastily marched through his town. By the time the British finally reached the safety of Boston, nearly 300 British soldiers had been killed, wounded, or were missing in action. The Patriots suffered fewer than 100 casualties.

The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the American Revolution, a conflict that would escalate from a colonial uprising into a world war that, seven years later, would give birth to the independent United States of America.

Woolsey DD- 77 - History

Resurrection Elementary School
Dapper Dan Roundball Practice - March 31, 1977

Eugene Banks of Philadelphia (left) and Albert King of New York practicing at Resurrection gymnasium.

On Thursday, March 31, 1977, promoter Sonny Vaccaro rented out the Resurrection gymnasium for a day of practice for the visiting high school basketball players from around the country who were participating in Pittsburgh's 13th Annual Dapper Dan Roundball Classic. It was a special day as the country's elite college prospects were here in Pittsburgh for the premier all-star game of that era.

Word got out among the community that the best of the best were in action at Resurrection, and soon the gymnasium was packed with spectators. Mixed in were a few press reporters and cameramen who came to get a preview of the upcoming attraction.

Among the crowd was twelve year old Larry Meyer, who couldn't help but the give United States star player Wayne McCoy a lesson on ball-spinning. Other future stars practicing that day included NBA legend Eugene Banks and Pitt basketball great Sam Clancy, who went on to a long career as a defensive end in the NFL.


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Pentagon, large five-sided building in Arlington county, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., that serves as the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, including all three military services—Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Constructed during 1941–43, the Pentagon was intended to consolidate the offices of the War Department, which had occupied 17 separate facilities throughout Washington. Although President Franklin D. Roosevelt initially favoured a building without windows to protect it from potential air raids, he was later convinced by building engineers that such a facility would be impractical. He eventually supported a five-sided design by George Edwin Bergstrom—though Gilmore Clarke, the chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, whose office was charged with advising the president and Congress on federally funded artistic and public structures, criticized it as “one of the most serious and worst attacks on the plan of Washington.” The site selected was mostly a swampy wasteland whose only structure was the small, obsolete Washington Airport. In order to stabilize the area, some 5.5 million cubic yards (4.2 million cubic metres) of dirt were trucked in, and 41,492 concrete piles were set to support the building’s foundation. To protect the vista of neighbouring Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon’s height was strictly limited to 77 feet 3.5 inches (24 metres). With the country’s entry into World War II in December 1941, just three months after the start of construction in September, completion of the building became a national priority. More than 13,000 workers laboured day and night, and within just eight months of groundbreaking, Secretary of War Henry Stimson relocated his offices to the new facility.

At its completion at a cost of $83 million in January 1943, the Pentagon was the world’s largest office building, covering 29 acres (12 hectares)—including a 5-acre (2-hectare) central court—and containing roughly 3,700,000 square feet (344,000 square metres) of usable floor space for approximately 25,000 people. Plans to convert the building to a hospital or some other peacetime facility after the war were abandoned with the rapid onset of the Cold War, which required a high degree of military preparedness. The Pentagon remains one of the world’s largest office buildings.

Constructed of steel and reinforced concrete with some limestone facing, the structure has five floors, excluding its mezzanine and basement. It consists of five concentric pentagons, or “rings,” with 10 spokelike corridors connecting the whole. There are 17.5 miles (28 km) of corridors, but, because of its innovative construction, it is possible to walk between any two points within the building in approximately seven minutes. Several libraries serve as research facilities for the military, and these repositories subscribe to more than 1,700 periodicals in a wide variety of languages. Two cafeterias, a dining room, and seven snack bars are also located on the premises. There are 67 acres (27 hectares) of parking lots, which can accommodate about 8,700 automobiles. Bus and taxi terminals are located beneath a huge concourse containing a shopping centre for Pentagon employees. The Washington Metro subway also serves the facility, and a heliport was added in 1956.

In 2001, on the 60th anniversary of the Pentagon’s groundbreaking, five terrorists hijacked a commercial airliner and piloted it into the building during the September 11 attacks. Part of the southwest side of the building was destroyed, and 189 people, including the terrorists, were killed. The damage was largely repaired within a year.

Voter Turnout Rises in the South

Although the Voting Rights Act passed, state and local enforcement of the law was weak, and it often was ignored outright, mainly in the South and in areas where the proportion of Black people in the population was high and their vote threatened the political status quo.

Still, the Voting Rights Act gave African American voters the legal means to challenge voting restrictions and vastly improved voter turnout. In Mississippi alone, voter turnout among Black people increased from 6 percent in 1964 to 59 percent in 1969.

Since its passage, the Voting Rights Act has been amended to include such features as the protection of voting rights for non-English speaking American citizens.

What Does the Number Six Mean in the Bible?

The number six in the Bible represents man and rebellion. Both man and serpent were created on the sixth day, which is why the number represents both man and the evil that weakens him.

In the Greek alphabet, the number six is represented by a symbol called the "stigma" versus an actual number. Revelation 13:18 displays the number of the beast using the Greek symbols for 600, 60 and 6.

There are other mentions of six within the Bible, such as Exodus 31:15 where it states man is commanded to labor for six days. The Ten Commandments are listed in Exodus 20:13, with the sixth commandment reading "thou shall not kill."

In Matthew 6:13 displays the sixth clause in the prayer "Our Lord's Prayer" that petitions that man not be led into sin and be delivered from evil, which is symbolic of the meaning of the number six.

Other interesting facts about the number six in the Bible include, Jesus suffered on the cross for six hours, the world turned dark on the sixth hour in Hebrew time when Christ was placed on the cross, and all six letters that represent the system of the Roman Empire yield the number 666 when added together.

This security update includes quality improvements. Key changes include:

Addresses an issue in Microsoft Edge IE mode that occurs when you open multiple documents from a SharePoint site.

Addresses an issue in Microsoft Edge IE mode that occurs when you browse using anchor links.

Addresses an issue with loading Browser Helper Objects in Microsoft Edge IE mode.

Addresses an issue that causes certain applications to stop responding when under load if they rely on the JScript Scripting Engine.

Addresses an issue that prevents you from installing some .msi apps. This occurs when a device is managed by a Group Policy that redirects the AppData folder to a network folder.

Addresses an issue in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps that allows single sign-on authentication when an app does not have the Enterprise Authentication capability. With the release of CVE-2020-1509, UWP applications might begin prompting the user for credentials.

Addresses an issue with printing to a local port that is configured as a Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path or a shared network printer. These ports no longer appear in Control Panel on the Ports tab of the Print Server Properties dialog box. This issue occurs after installing Windows Updates released between May 2020 and July 2020.

Security updates to Internet Explorer, the Microsoft Scripting Engine, Windows Graphics, Windows Media, Windows Shell, the Windows Wallet Service, Microsoft Edge Legacy, Windows Cloud Infrastructure, Windows Authentication, Windows Fundamentals, Windows Kernel, Windows Core Networking, Windows Storage and Filesystems, Windows Hybrid Storage Services, and the Microsoft JET Database Engine.

If you installed earlier updates, only the new fixes contained in this package will be downloaded and installed on your device.

For more information about the resolved security vulnerabilities, please refer to the Security Update Guide.

Windows Update Improvements

Microsoft has released an update directly to the Windows Update client to improve reliability. Any device running Windows 10 configured to receive updates automatically from Windows Update, including Enterprise and Pro editions, will be offered the latest Windows 10 feature update based on device compatibility and Windows Update for Business deferral policy. This doesn't apply to long-term servicing editions.

Woolsey DD- 77 - History

Cultural Significance:

The so called Lucky Stars (folded paper stars, origami stars, lucky paper stars) that I was told are mainly significant to middle school and high school students, are somewhat of a ritual in this culture. These stars that are folded and hand-made (although I found some in the store that were already pre-made), are used as gifts, mostly between couples, to signify how much you love or care about someone. The amount of stars that you give someone has significance as well. If you’re not giving the stars as a gift of love, then the stars can be used to make a wish. If you make 100 or 1,000, it is said that you can make a wish on these (2). Alternately if you give someone 100 or 1,000 folded lucky stars then they are able to make a wish on the stars. This ritual of ascribing meaning to the stars, and meaning to giving them to someone brings these Lucky Stars into circulation. They are circulated between couples, and friends, and given as gifts. The simple folded paper star is given a deeper meaning, something which I doubt anyone who gives the stars as gifts fully believes in, but nonetheless wants to tell someone something with them.

The network that surrounds these Chinese lucky stars is at the surface simple, but actually more complex than it seems. Simply, the paper used to make these stars is made and printed and cut – basically manufactured somewhere. I was not able to find any reference to how this paper is made, but I assume as any other paper and then just cut specially for the folding of the stars. The paper is then sold to people who want to make lucky stars. There are a lot of places online to buy this kind of pre-cut paper, but a lot of people will cut this paper on their own, to the size they want (4). Other than just this simple network of resources and people, there is also the case of the pre-made stars that are sold in stores or online. In this case, the paper is made and cut, but instead of going straight to the consumer, there is a middle step where someone is employed to make tons and tons of these paper stars, or else it is done mechanically. People also sell these pre-made stars independently online (5). After these stars are either made or bought pre-made, they are usually given to someone as a gift. The stars are usually placed in glass jars when given as gifts, so the entire manufacture and purchasing of the jar is also a part of the network that is involved in the circulation of the lucky stars. The woman who worked at the store where I found these said that they buy the pre-cut paper from in the U.S., but she was unsure about the pre-made stars.

From what I could find on the internet, the whole custom of making these lucky stars and giving them as gifts with meaning really took off after in a 1980s Chinese movie, a woman gave a man a jar of these folded stars as a blessing (3). This is the only concrete reference to meaning that I could find, however, the meaning of these stars is reinforced when they are given as gifts. People have ascribed meaning to a certain number of stars to mean a certain thing, and this meaning is circulated along with the lucky stars, and is subject to change over time. The companies that sell the pre-made stars, and companies that sell the pre-cut paper also establish the meaning of the number of stars as well. I saw a couple of pre-made packets of stars in the store that had the meaning of the number of stars that you give to someone on the back. Meaning is somewhat arbitrary, and although generally agreed upon by the community of people who make the stars, can easily be changed by these companies. The meaning of the lucky stars is more so something that although agreed upon by the network they are circulated in, is determined by the individual making or giving the stars to someone.

Most of the information I got about these lucky stars was from the woman who I talked to in the store as well as from public forums online such as Yahoo Answers. Because these lucky paper stars are such a peripheral cultural custom whose meaning is largely determined by the individual, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be a lot of scientific information on them or their meaning or circulation.

On his tour of the African American museum, Obama probably saw a familiar face

An exhibit on the inauguration of President Obama, shown on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will open on September 24. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)

President Obama and his family took their first excursion Wednesday night into the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, for a private tour lasting about 80 minutes.

It’s not known which exhibits they lingered over — but it’s likely they saw a few things that hit close to home.

As the first black president, Obama is amply represented through the museum’s exhibits and galleries. There are buttons and signs from his campaign, and a program from an inaugural ball. There is also a black dress with red roses, made by African American designer Tracy Reese, that Michelle Obama wore during the 50th anniversary ceremony commemorating the March on Washington.

President Obama speaks at the 2012 groundbreaking of the new Smithsonian. He will appear at its official opening next week. (Saul Loeb/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Also on exhibit: Sneakers with hand-painted images of Obama, by artist Van Taylor Monroe. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Elsewhere in the museum there is a photo of the awkward “beer summit” that the president convened after the racially-charged incident in which a Cambridge, Mass., police officer arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for seemingly breaking into a house that turned out to be his own. And in the museum’s pop-culture-heavy fourth floor, Obama earns a spot (alongside the likes of “Real Housewives’s” Nene Leakes) in a section documenting gestures and body language that are considered classically African American — notably, the moment on a 2008 campaign stage when he and Michelle gave each other a fist bump.

And their current abode is represented as well — in an exhibit on slavery, which documents the role of enslaved men and women who worked in the White House.

On Wednesday night, the Obamas had the place all to themselves. Neither the White House nor the museum had any immediate comment about their reactions to the galleries or seeing themselves in the exhibitions, though in a visit of less than two hours there is surely a lot that they did not see.

The president will speak at the museum’s opening ceremony next week and White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that both he and the first lady are “quite enthusiastic” about it.

The Great Human Migration

Seventy-seven thousand years ago, a craftsman sat in a cave in a limestone cliff overlooking the rocky coast of what is now the Indian Ocean. It was a beautiful spot, a workshop with a glorious natural picture window, cooled by a sea breeze in summer, warmed by a small fire in winter. The sandy cliff top above was covered with a white-flowering shrub that one distant day would be known as blombos and give this place the name Blombos Cave.

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The man picked up a piece of reddish brown stone about three inches long that he—or she, no one knows—had polished. With a stone point, he etched a geometric design in the flat surface—simple crosshatchings framed by two parallel lines with a third line down the middle.

Today the stone offers no clue to its original purpose. It could have been a religious object, an ornament or just an ancient doodle. But to see it is to immediately recognize it as something only a person could have made. Carving the stone was a very human thing to do.

The scratchings on this piece of red ocher mudstone are the oldest known example of an intricate design made by a human being. The ability to create and communicate using such symbols, says Christopher Henshilwood, leader of the team that discovered the stone, is "an unambiguous marker" of modern humans, one of the characteristics that separate us from any other species, living or extinct.

Henshilwood, an archaeologist at Norway's University of Bergen and the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, found the carving on land owned by his grandfather, near the southern tip of the African continent. Over the years, he had identified and excavated nine sites on the property, none more than 6,500 years old, and was not at first interested in this cliffside cave a few miles from the South African town of Still Bay. What he would find there, however, would change the way scientists think about the evolution of modern humans and the factors that triggered perhaps the most important event in human prehistory, when Homo sapiens left their African homeland to colonize the world.

This great migration brought our species to a position of world dominance that it has never relinquished and signaled the extinction of whatever competitors remained—Neanderthals in Europe and Asia, some scattered pockets of Homo erectus in the Far East and, if scholars ultimately decide they are in fact a separate species, some diminutive people from the Indonesian island of Flores (see "Were 'Hobbits' Human?"). When the migration was complete, Homo sapiens was the last—and only—man standing.

Even today researchers argue about what separates modern humans from other, extinct hominids. Generally speaking, moderns tend to be a slimmer, taller breed: "gracile," in scientific parlance, rather than "robust," like the heavy-boned Neanderthals, their contemporaries for perhaps 15,000 years in ice age Eurasia. The modern and Neanderthal brains were about the same size, but their skulls were shaped differently: the newcomers' skulls were flatter in back than the Neanderthals', and they had prominent jaws and a straight forehead without heavy brow ridges. Lighter bodies may have meant that modern humans needed less food, giving them a competitive advantage during hard times.

The moderns' behaviors were also different. Neanderthals made tools, but they worked with chunky flakes struck from large stones. Modern humans' stone tools and weapons usually featured elongated, standardized, finely crafted blades. Both species hunted and killed the same large mammals, including deer, horses, bison and wild cattle. But moderns' sophisticated weaponry, such as throwing spears with a variety of carefully wrought stone, bone and antler tips, made them more successful. And the tools may have kept them relatively safe fossil evidence shows Neanderthals suffered grievous injuries, such as gorings and bone breaks, probably from hunting at close quarters with short, stone-tipped pikes and stabbing spears. Both species had rituals—Neanderthals buried their dead—and both made ornaments and jewelry. But the moderns produced their artifacts with a frequency and expertise that Neanderthals never matched. And Neanderthals, as far as we know, had nothing like the etching at Blombos Cave, let alone the bone carvings, ivory flutes and, ultimately, the mesmerizing cave paintings and rock art that modern humans left as snapshots of their world.

When the study of human origins intensified in the 20th century, two main theories emerged to explain the archaeological and fossil record: one, known as the multi-regional hypothesis, suggested that a species of human ancestor dispersed throughout the globe, and modern humans evolved from this predecessor in several different locations. The other, out-of-Africa theory, held that modern humans evolved in Africa for many thousands of years before they spread throughout the rest of the world.

In the 1980s, new tools completely changed the kinds of questions that scientists could answer about the past. By analyzing DNA in living human populations, geneticists could trace lineages backward in time. These analyses have provided key support for the out-of-Africa theory. Homo sapiens, this new evidence has repeatedly shown, evolved in Africa, probably around 200,000 years ago.

The first DNA studies of human evolution didn't use the DNA in a cell's nucleus—chromosomes inherited from both father and mother—but a shorter strand of DNA contained in the mitochondria, which are energy-producing structures inside most cells. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the mother. Conveniently for scientists, mitochondrial DNA has a relatively high mutation rate, and mutations are carried along in subsequent generations. By comparing mutations in mitochondrial DNA among today's populations, and making assumptions about how frequently they occurred, scientists can walk the genetic code backward through generations, combining lineages in ever larger, earlier branches until they reach the evolutionary trunk.

At that point in human history, which scientists have calculated to be about 200,000 years ago, a woman existed whose mitochondrial DNA was the source of the mitochondrial DNA in every person alive today. That is, all of us are her descendants. Scientists call her "Eve." This is something of a misnomer, for Eve was neither the first modern human nor the only woman alive 200,000 years ago. But she did live at a time when the modern human population was small—about 10,000 people, according to one estimate. She is the only woman from that time to have an unbroken lineage of daughters, though she is neither our only ancestor nor our oldest ancestor. She is, instead, simply our "most recent common ancestor," at least when it comes to mitochondria. And Eve, mitochondrial DNA backtracking showed, lived in Africa.

Subsequent, more sophisticated analyses using DNA from the nucleus of cells have confirmed these findings, most recently in a study this year comparing nuclear DNA from 938 people from 51 parts of the world. This research, the most comprehensive to date, traced our common ancestor to Africa and clarified the ancestries of several populations in Europe and the Middle East.

While DNA studies have revolutionized the field of paleoanthropology, the story "is not as straightforward as people think," says University of Pennsylvania geneticist Sarah A. Tishkoff. If the rates of mutation, which are largely inferred, are not accurate, the migration timetable could be off by thousands of years.

To piece together humankind's great migration, scientists blend DNA analysis with archaeological and fossil evidence to try to create a coherent whole—no easy task. A disproportionate number of artifacts and fossils are from Europe—where researchers have been finding sites for well over 100 years—but there are huge gaps elsewhere. "Outside the Near East there is almost nothing from Asia, maybe ten dots you could put on a map," says Texas A&M University anthropologist Ted Goebel.

As the gaps are filled, the story is likely to change, but in broad outline, today's scientists believe that from their beginnings in Africa, the modern humans went first to Asia between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago. By 45,000 years ago, or possibly earlier, they had settled Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia. The moderns entered Europe around 40,000 years ago, probably via two routes: from Turkey along the Danube corridor into eastern Europe, and along the Mediterranean coast. By 35,000 years ago, they were firmly established in most of the Old World. The Neanderthals, forced into mountain strongholds in Croatia, the Iberian Peninsula, the Crimea and elsewhere, would become extinct 25,000 years ago. Finally, around 15,000 years ago, humans crossed from Asia to North America and from there to South America.

Africa is relatively rich in the fossils of human ancestors who lived millions of years ago (see timeline, opposite). Lush, tropical lake country at the dawn of human evolution provided one congenial living habitat for such hominids as Australopithecus afarensis. Many such places are dry today, which makes for a congenial exploration habitat for paleontologists. Wind erosion exposes old bones that were covered in muck millions of years ago. Remains of early Homo sapiens, by contrast, are rare, not only in Africa, but also in Europe. One suspicion is that the early moderns on both continents did not—in contrast to Neanderthals—bury their dead, but either cremated them or left them to decompose in the open.

Blombos Cave held signs of early human creativity. (Centre for Development Studies, University of Bergen, Norway)

In 2003, a team of anthropologists reported the discovery of three unusual skulls—two adults and a child—at Herto, near the site of an ancient freshwater lake in northeast Ethiopia. The skulls were between 154,000 and 160,000 years old and had modern characteristics, but with some archaic features. "Even now I'm a little hesitant to call them anatomically modern," says team leader Tim White, from the University of California at Berkeley. "These are big, robust people, who haven't quite evolved into modern humans. Yet they are so close you wouldn't want to give them a different species name."

The Herto skulls fit with the DNA analysis suggesting that modern humans evolved some 200,000 years ago. But they also raised questions. There were no other skeletal remains at the site (although there was evidence of butchered hippopotamuses), and all three skulls, which were nearly complete except for jawbones, showed cut marks—signs of scraping with stone tools. It appeared that the skulls had been deliberately detached from their skeletons and defleshed. In fact, part of the child's skull was highly polished. "It is hard to argue that this is not some kind of mortuary ritual," White says.

Even more provocative were discoveries reported last year. In a cave at Pinnacle Point in South Africa, a team led by Arizona State University paleoanthropologist Curtis Marean found evidence that humans 164,000 years ago were eating shellfish, making complex tools and using red ocher pigment—all modern human behaviors. The shellfish remains—of mussels, periwinkles, barnacles and other mollusks—indicated that humans were exploiting the sea as a food source at least 40,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The first archaeological evidence of a human migration out of Africa was found in the caves of Qafzeh and Skhul, in present-day Israel. These sites, initially discovered in the 1930s, contained the remains of at least 11 modern humans. Most appeared to have been ritually buried. Artifacts at the site, however, were simple: hand axes and other Neanderthal-style tools.

At first, the skeletons were thought to be 50,000 years old—modern humans who had settled in the Levant on their way to Europe. But in 1989, new dating techniques showed them to be 90,000 to 100,000 years old, the oldest modern human remains ever found outside Africa. But this excursion appears to be a dead end: there is no evidence that these moderns survived for long, much less went on to colonize any other parts of the globe. They are therefore not considered to be a part of the migration that followed 10,000 or 20,000 years later.

Intriguingly, 70,000-year-old Neanderthal remains have been found in the same region. The moderns, it would appear, arrived first, only to move on, die off because of disease or natural catastrophe or—possibly—get wiped out. If they shared territory with Neanderthals, the more "robust" species may have outcompeted them here. "You may be anatomically modern and display modern behaviors," says paleoanthropologist Nicholas J. Conard of Germany's University of Tübingen, "but apparently it wasn't enough. At that point the two species are on pretty equal footing." It was also at this point in history, scientists concluded, that the Africans ceded Asia to the Neanderthals.

Then, about 80,000 years ago, says Blombos archaeologist Henshilwood, modern humans entered a "dynamic period" of innovation. The evidence comes from such South African cave sites as Blombos, Klasies River, Diepkloof and Sibudu. In addition to the ocher carving, the Blombos Cave yielded perforated ornamental shell beads—among the world's first known jewelry. Pieces of inscribed ostrich eggshell turned up at Diepkloof. Hafted points at Sibudu and elsewhere hint that the moderns of southern Africa used throwing spears and arrows. Fine-grained stone needed for careful workmanship had been transported from up to 18 miles away, which suggests they had some sort of trade. Bones at several South African sites showed that humans were killing eland, springbok and even seals. At Klasies River, traces of burned vegetation suggest that the ancient hunter-gatherers may have figured out that by clearing land, they could encourage quicker growth of edible roots and tubers. The sophisticated bone tool and stoneworking technologies at these sites were all from roughly the same time period—between 75,000 and 55,000 years ago.

Virtually all of these sites had piles of seashells. Together with the much older evidence from the cave at Pinnacle Point, the shells suggest that seafood may have served as a nutritional trigger at a crucial point in human history, providing the fatty acids that modern humans needed to fuel their outsize brains: "This is the evolutionary driving force," says University of Cape Town archaeologist John Parkington. "It is sucking people into being more cognitively aware, faster-wired, faster-brained, smarter." Stanford University paleoanthropologist Richard Klein has long argued that a genetic mutation at roughly this point in human history provoked a sudden increase in brainpower, perhaps linked to the onset of speech.

Did new technology, improved nutrition or some genetic mutation allow modern humans to explore the world? Possibly, but other scholars point to more mundane factors that may have contributed to the exodus from Africa. A recent DNA study suggests that massive droughts before the great migration split Africa's modern human population into small, isolated groups and may have even threatened their extinction. Only after the weather improved were the survivors able to reunite, multiply and, in the end, emigrate. Improvements in technology may have helped some of them set out for new territory. Or cold snaps may have lowered sea level and opened new land bridges.

Whatever the reason, the ancient Africans reached a watershed. They were ready to leave, and they did.

DNA evidence suggests the original exodus involved anywhere from 1,000 to 50,000 people. Scientists do not agree on the time of the departure—sometime more recently than 80,000 years ago—or the departure point, but most now appear to be leaning away from the Sinai, once the favored location, and toward a land bridge crossing what today is the Bab el Mandeb Strait separating Djibouti from the Arabian Peninsula at the southern end of the Red Sea. From there, the thinking goes, migrants could have followed a southern route eastward along the coast of the Indian Ocean. "It could have been almost accidental," Henshilwood says, a path of least resistance that did not require adaptations to different climates, topographies or diet. The migrants' path never veered far from the sea, departed from warm weather or failed to provide familiar food, such as shellfish and tropical fruit.

Tools found at Jwalapuram, a 74,000-year-old site in southern India, match those used in Africa from the same period. Anthropologist Michael Petraglia of the University of Cambridge, who led the dig, says that although no human fossils have been found to confirm the presence of modern humans at Jwalapuram, the tools suggest it is the earliest known settlement of modern humans outside of Africa except for the dead enders at Israel's Qafzeh and Skhul sites.

And that's about all the physical evidence there is for tracking the migrants' early progress across Asia. To the south, the fossil and archaeological record is clearer and shows that modern humans reached Australia and Papua New Guinea—then part of the same landmass—at least 45,000 years ago, and maybe much earlier.

But curiously, the early down under colonists apparently did not make sophisticated tools, relying instead on simple Neanderthal-style flaked stones and scrapers. They had few ornaments and little long-distance trade, and left scant evidence that they hunted large marsupial mammals in their new homeland. Of course, they may have used sophisticated wood or bamboo tools that have decayed. But University of Utah anthropologist James F. O'Connell offers another explanation: the early settlers did not bother with sophisticated technologies because they did not need them. That these people were "modern" and innovative is clear: getting to New Guinea-Australia from the mainland required at least one sea voyage of more than 45 miles, an astounding achievement. But once in place, the colonists faced few pressures to innovate or adapt new technologies. In particular, O'Connell notes, there were few people, no shortage of food and no need to compete with an indigenous population like Europe's Neanderthals.

Modern humans eventually made their first forays into Europe only about 40,000 years ago, presumably delayed by relatively cold and inhospitable weather and a less than welcoming Neanderthal population. The conquest of the continent—if that is what it was—is thought to have lasted about 15,000 years, as the last pockets of Neanderthals dwindled to extinction. The European penetration is widely regarded as the decisive event of the great migration, eliminating as it did our last rivals and enabling the moderns to survive there uncontested.

Did modern humans wipe out the competition, absorb them through interbreeding, outthink them or simply stand by while climate, dwindling resources, an epidemic or some other natural phenomenon did the job? Perhaps all of the above. Archaeologists have found little direct evidence of confrontation between the two peoples. Skeletal evidence of possible interbreeding is sparse, contentious and inconclusive. And while interbreeding may well have taken place, recent DNA studies have failed to show any consistent genetic relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals.

"You are always looking for a neat answer, but my feeling is that you should use your imagination," says Harvard University archaeologist Ofer Bar-Yosef. "There may have been positive interaction with the diffusion of technology from one group to the other. Or the modern humans could have killed off the Neanderthals. Or the Neanderthals could have just died out. Instead of subscribing to one hypothesis or two, I see a composite."

Modern humans' next conquest was the New World, which they reached by the Bering Land Bridge—or possibly by boat—at least 15,000 years ago. Some of the oldest unambiguous evidence of humans in the New World is human DNA extracted from coprolites—fossilized feces—found in Oregon and recently carbon dated to 14,300 years ago.

For many years paleontologists still had one gap in their story of how humans conquered the world. They had no human fossils from sub-Saharan Africa from between 15,000 and 70,000 years ago. Because the epoch of the great migration was a blank slate, they could not say for sure that the modern humans who invaded Europe were functionally identical to those who stayed behind in Africa. But one day in 1999, anthropologist Alan Morris of South Africa's University of Cape Town showed Frederick Grine, a visiting colleague from Stony Brook University, an unusual-looking skull on his bookcase. Morris told Grine that the skull had been discovered in the 1950s at Hofmeyr, in South Africa. No other bones had been found near it, and its original resting place had been befouled by river sediment. Any archaeological evidence from the site had been destroyed—the skull was a seemingly useless artifact.

But Grine noticed that the braincase was filled with a carbonate sand matrix. Using a technique unavailable in the 1950s, Grine, Morris and an Oxford University-led team of analysts measured radioactive particles in the matrix. The skull, they learned, was 36,000 years old. Comparing it with skulls from Neanderthals, early modern Europeans and contemporary humans, they discovered it had nothing in common with Neanderthal skulls and only peripheral similarities with any of today's populations. But it matched the early Europeans elegantly. The evidence was clear. Thirty-six thousand years ago, says Morris, before the world's human population differentiated into the mishmash of races and ethnicities that exist today, "We were all Africans."

Guy Gugliotta has written about cheetahs, Fidel Castro and London's Old Bailey courthouse for Smithsonian.

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