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Earliest evidence of humans living in rainforests.

In at least one part of the world, humans had adapted to living in rainforests by 20,000 years ago. New evidence of people inhabiting Sri Lanka is the earliest yet discovered in such a habitat--by about 10,000 years.

Archaeologist Patrick Roberts of the University of Oxford and his colleagues analyzed chemical signatures of teeth from the remains of 26 individuals who lived in Sri Lanka between 20,000 and 3,000 years ago. That evidence reflects year-round consumption of rainforest plants and fruits, the researchers report in the March 13 Science. At least on this South Asian island, Stone Age humans found ways to survive full-time in and on the fringes of jungles that included a few open spaces, the researchers say.

Several previous finds had hinted that humans occupied South Asian rainforests as early as 46,000 years ago. But it was unclear whether those stays were brief or long-term. Some researchers have speculated that it took until around 10,000 years ago for foraging groups to figure out how to find enough food and fend off predators well enough to survive year-round in rainforests.

Caption: Teeth excavated from this rock-shelter (right) in Sri Lanka provide evidence of long-term human rainforest occupation as early as 20,000 years ago.

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Title Annotation:THE-EST
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:9SRIL
Date:Apr 18, 2015
Words:223
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