Modern humans, Homo sapiens, have been around for about 200,000 years, which (if you think about it) is really not a very long time. 280,000 years is a slightly longer time, and that's the age of some stone spearheads that were recently found in Ethiopia. If you run the numbers on this, you'll come up with the fact that there were spearheads (deliberately and intelligently crafted out of obsidian), and therefore spears, being used some 80,000 years before our species technically existed.
Now, evolution is obviously a continuum, and so arguably there's no specific point at which humans suddenly became "modern," but 80,000 years early is a lot of years early. And making spears (throwing spears, in fact) is a significant technological achievement that none of us could probably pull off without an instruction manual and some practice.
Scientists are starting to think that it's possible that an earlier sort of human, most likely Homo heidelbergensis (Heidelberg man), may have gotten lucky. The location where these artifacts were found is around a resource rich lake, suggesting that the area may have supported a large and stable population for quite a while. And with any population, if you get enough people, eventually one of them is bound to be significantly cleverer than most, and it's possible that a super genius caveman could have helped make this very early technological leap.
Or, you know, it's aliens.
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