Prehistoric Mountaineers

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Ancient humans lived off giant mole rats high in the mountains of Ethiopia to survive the last ice age, a new study finds. Previous research had suggested that high-altitude regions such as Tibet and the Andes were among the last places peopled by humans. The air is low in oxygen, resources are scarce and the weather can get harsh. However, in increasing numbers, archaeological finds in high places across the globe have recently begun showing that humans might have colonized high altitudes earlier than previously thought. For example, a jawbone unearthed in a holy cave in China reveals that an extinct, mysterious human lineage known as the Denisovans made its way to the high Tibetan Plateau as early as 160,000 years ago. Still, although those findings suggested the presence of humans in these areas, they said little as to whether people actually dwelled there. Now, scientists working in Ethiopia have uncovered what they said is the earliest evidence to date of prehistoric mountaineers, ones who made a home at great heights during the last ice age more than 30,000 years ago.

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