Dated to more than 300,000 years ago, the finds raise key questions about the defining features of Homo sapiens and how our kind came to be
What looks to be the oldest fossilized remains of Homo Sapiens have been unearthed out of Morocco. As it turns out, this discovery is shaking up everything the scientific community thought it knew about the origin of the human species.
The ancient fragments of skulls and jawbones were collected from an archaeological site called Jebel Irhoud along the Atlantic coast near Sidi Moktar. In a study published in Nature, researchers dated the remains to be 315,000 years old – a date that pushes the emergence of Homo Sapiens as a species back by 100,000. Just as importantly, scientists also found fire-heated flint artifacts at the site, which dated to the same time period and can give us some clues into how these early ancestors lived.
Before these findings, the prevalent theory up to now was that modern man first evolved about 200,000 years ago in East Africa. This is based on a collection of fossil discoveries in Ethiopia dated that far back. This led scientists to believe Sub Saharan East Africa was a sort of “cradle” for mankind and that we spread out to other parts of Africa from there.
“THESE NEW FINDING CHALLENGE THE NOTION THAT MAN WALKED OUT OF SOME SINGULAR BIRTHPLACE”
However, these new findings challenge the notion that man walked out of some singular birthplace and indicates we may have instead formed distinct and coexisting groups across all of Africa. Lead researcher of the study, Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, likened prehistoric Africa to “a kind of human zoo”.
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