03 07 11 - 08:01They used to tell us 10,000 years. Some still do; others are dating it to the time of "Out of Africa," e.g. 186,000 years or so ago.
There are doubts however:
In 1976, when paleoanthropologist Andrew Hill and a colleague were tossing elephant dung at each other in Laetoli, a hominid archeological site in Tanzania. As Hill dived out of the way, he stumbled on what turned out to be one of the wonders of prehistoric finds: a trail of hominid footprints about 3.6 million years old.
The prints, say experts on hominid body structure, are strikingly different from those of a chimpanzee, and in fact are hardly distinguishable from those of modern humans. The only known hominid fossils of that age in that location are those of Lucy and her kind, the small-brained but upright-walking hominids classified as Australopithecus afarensis. PBS
They look very modern human. Maybe we were closer than we thought, 3.6 million years ago, and all the old tales are right: humans have been here in modern form a lot longer than is commonly believed.