Science  04 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6056, pp. 576
  1. Modern Humans' First European Tour

    Old bones.

    This jawbone belonged to a modern human who reached England at least 41,000 years ago.


    Our species trekked to England's southern coast by 41,000 to 44,000 years ago—about 6000 years earlier than expected, according to new dates for a partial jawbone and teeth described in two reports in this week's issue of Nature.

    Researchers have long suspected that our ancestors migrated to Europe from Africa by about 42,000 years ago, based on Aurignacian tools thought to be crafted only by Homo sapiens. But the oldest modern human fossils in Europe, from Oase, Romania, are about 40,000 years old. Now, scientists have concluded that two molars from southern Italy dating to 43,000 to 45,000 years ago belonged to modern humans, making them the oldest known modern humans in Europe. They also now think that transitional tools, once attributed to Neandertals, were made by modern humans instead, according to the report by Stefano Benazzi of the University of Vienna and colleagues.

    Using a refined carbon dating technique called ultrafiltration to redate animal bones associated with the jaw in England, and a separate technique to date shell beads in Italy, the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit put modern humans in Italy and England earlier than those in Romania—and at the same time as Neandertals. “Modern humans got a lot further faster than we thought,” says co-author Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London.

  2. Happiness Associated With Longer Life

    People in better moods are 35% less likely to die in the next 5 years when taking their life situations into account, according to a study published online 31 October in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


    The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing followed more than 11,000 people age 50 and older since 2002. In 2004, about 4700 subjects collected saliva samples four times in one day and, at those same times, rated how happy, excited, content, worried, anxious, and fearful they felt. The saliva samples are awaiting analysis for stress hormones, but in the new study, psychologist and epidemiologist Andrew Steptoe of University College London (UCL), and UCL colleague Jane Wardle published their results on mood and mortality.

    Of the 924 people who reported the least positive feelings, 7.3%, or 67, died within 5 years. For people with the most positive feelings, the rate fell in half, to 3.6%, or 50 of 1399 people. The researchers adjusted for age, sex, demographic factors, signs of depression, health (including disease diagnoses), and behaviors such as smoking and physical activity. Even with those adjustments, the risk of dying in the next 5 years was still 35% lower for the happiest people.

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