Although online sleuths had already identified many of them, CBS today announced the identities of sixteen of the castaways who will be competing on its upcoming Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island series.

Survivor: Panama, the twelfth installment of the long-running reality series, will premiere Thursday, February 2 at 8PM ET/PT -- a date that will put its first few episodes on a collision course with both the later part of ABC's Dancing with the Stars 2 run and NBC's Winter Olympics coverage.

In addition to the show's previously announced "Exile Island" twist in which each episode will feature at least one castaway being banished to a "tiny island of exile" for "days at a time," Survivor: Panama will also feature another significant change: starting the game with four tribes.

Rather than initially dividing the castaways into the show's traditional two tribe format, Survivor: Panama will begin by dividing the castaways into four tribes comprised of four contestants each. The castaways will be broken up by both age and sex -- younger men, younger women, older men, and older women -- and remain that way for the premiere episode's tribal challenge. However the four tribe format will be short lived, with the four tribes destined to become two during a "schoolyard pick" that will occur during the show's second episode.

As part of the "Exile Island" twist, Survivor: Panama's premiere episode will begin with the four tribes competing in a Reward Challenge in which the losing tribe will have to decide which castaway will become the first contestant to be banished to the remote island located miles away from their tribe's camp. But the early banishment (the exiled contestant won't return until the next Immunity Challenge) will give the castaway one advantage -- first dibs at locating an Immunity Idol hidden somewhere on the island. Similar to the Survivor: Guatemala hidden Immunity Idol that enabled Gary Hogeboom to temporarily save himself from being voted off during last season's edition of the show, finding the island's Immunity Idol could save a castaway from being voted off at a future Tribal Council.

Given the show's increasingly younger cast, Survivor: Panama's "Older Men" tribe will feature a 35-year-old attorney while the "Older Women" tribe will include a 32-year-old professional singer. Other cast members include a 52-year-old retired astronaut who flew three space shuttle missions, a 46-year-old former Navy fighter pilot, a 24-year-old actor/model who has also written a self-published short novel, and a 45-year-old logging sports promoter/performer who had originally been selected to participate in Survivor: Guatemala but canceled when her 16-year-old only child was killed in a car accident that occurred a week before she was scheduled to leave.

CBS' decision to premiere Survivor: Panama prior to the conclusion of NBC's Winter Olympics coverage -- typically a ratings juggernaut -- is somewhat surprising and creates a scenario where, pending some still-unannounced significant preemptions or a radical departure from the show's normal 13 or 14 episode format, the highly-rated series will be airing its season finale just as the all-important May ratings sweeps period is beginning.

While CBS won't comment on Survivor: Panama's finale broadcast date at this time, network spokesperson Colleen Sullivan did confirm to Reality TV World that the show's third and fourth episodes will both air in their regular Thursday night time period during NBC's February 10-26 Olympics broadcast period. Combined with ABC's decision to air Dancing with the Stars 2 regularly on Thursdays at 8PM ET/PT through its February 23 finale and Fox's decision to air American Idol 5's semifinal results show in the 8-9PM hour for three weeks beginning on February 23, Survivor: Panama's broadcast schedule means that unless one of three networks blinks, Survivor: Panama's early episodes will face the long-running reality franchise's toughest time period competition ever, including a single night (February 23) in which it will face off against ABC's Dancing with the Stars 2 season finale, Fox's first American Idol 5 results show, and NBC's final weeknight broadcast of Torino Olympics coverage.

In 2002 -- the last time the Winter Olympics were held -- CBS delayed the debut of Survivor: Marquesas until after the Salt Lake City Games concluded. Survivor: Marquesas premiered on February 28, 2002 -- a date that still ranks as the latest premiere date for a midseason Survivor edition. Despite the fact that last year's February sweeps period began on February 3, last winter's Survivor: Palau premiered on February 17, 2005, with CBS opting to forego the early February sweeps period in order to ensure that the series aired through the end of the more important May sweeps period that ran between April 28 and May 25, 2005.

The sixteen castaways competing on Survivor: Panama -- Exile Island are:

Dan Barry, a 52-year-old retired astronaut from South Hadley, MA.

Aras Baskauskas, a 24-year-old yoga instructor from Santa Monica, CA

Austin Carty, a 24-year-old aspiring actor and author from High Point, NC
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Terry Deitz, a 46-year-old airline pilot and retired Navy fighter pilot from Simsbury, CT

Danielle DiLorenzo, a 24-year-old medical sales representative from Pompano Beach, FL.

Cirie Fields, a 35-year-old registered nurse from Walterboro, SC

Misty Giles, a 24-year-old engineer and former Miss Texas Teen USA from Dallas, TX

Melinda Hyder, a 32-year-old professional singer from Sevierville, TN

Bruce Kanegai, a 58-year-old karate instructor and high school art teacher from Simi Valley, CA

Courtney Marit, a 31-year-old performance artist from Los Angeles, CA

Bobby Mason, a 32-year-old attorney from Los Angeles, CA

Ruth Marie Milliman, a 48-year-old shopping center director of retail leasing from Greenville, SC

Shane Powers, a 35-year-old entertainment marketing company owner from Los Angeles, CA

Tina Scheer, a 45-year-old logging sports promoter/performer from Hayward, WI

Sally Schumann, a 27-year-old social worker from Chicago, IL.

Nick Stanbury, a 25-year-old from Tempe, AZ who works in financial sales.