Noted Russian Archeologist To Speak Here About Discovery

A controversial Russian archeologist who has uncovered a prehistoric site in Siberia that challenges theories of human evolution will speak at 8 p.m. next Tuesday at the U.S. West auditorium at Second Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle.

Yuri Mochanov will describe to the Pacific Northwest Archeological Society the discovery of primitive stone tools on the Lena River that he has dated as old as 3 million years. Cost is $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers.

Conventional theories hold that humans evolved in Africa and spread to the rest of the world relatively late. Other archeological sites in Siberia appear to be no older than 35,000 years.

Mochanov, however, has found stone tools similar to the oldest in Africa's Olduvai Gorge and has used two different dating methods to establish incredibly old dates. Instead of humans evolving in response to environmental change in Africa, he has suggested, perhaps their brain and tool-making evolved in response to cold weather in northern latitudes.

Mochanov's visit is being hosted by Rob Bonnichsen, an Oregon State University archeologist with his own controversial theories about an early origin of humans in the Western Hemisphere.

"Yuri has always been a controversial character but his archeology has always been very solid," assessed Roy Carlson, a Simon Fraser University archeologist who has visited to the Siberian site.

While the dates are still in dispute, there is no question Mochanov has found a large inhabited site with surprisingly old and primitive tools, Carlson said. "If Yuri's dates are true, it will cause people to rethink that man evolved in tropical areas," he said.