A team of archeologists has been studying what were recently dated as being 300000 years old fossils coming from five Homo sapiens individuals. Their age offers them the title of being the earliest such remains discovered as of yet and brings with it a series of new questions.
Previously, the oldest Homo sapiens fossils were dated as being some 200,000 years old, so these new remains push back the possible development of our ancestors by more than 100,000 years. Scientists agree that our modern human ancestor split from the Neanderthal branch over 500,000 years ago, but the exact evolution period of the modern human is still unknown.
300000 Years Old and Causing a Stir
These new Homo sapiens remains were discovered in Jebel Irhoud, an archeological site in Morocco. A team of specialists decided to reopen the site, initially studied back in the 1960s, and take a closer look around. In doing so, the experts discovered more hominin remains, including jaws and parts of the skull. They also found stone tools, charcoal, and animal bones. These later also presented traces of being butchered, possibly even cooked.
Very important, all these remains were unearthed from the same layer of dirt. According to the researchers, these means that they were very close in age to one another. This strengthened the dating results.
The scientists dated the Homo sapiens remains as been around 315,000 old. They were also able to virtually reconstruct the discovered skulls. This revealed the great resemblance between their faces and those of modern humans.
“The face is the face of somebody you could cross in the metro,” stated Hublin.
At the same time, the models also showed the significant differences, as the skulls also present primitive features. Because of this mix, the researchers consider that these remains may actually belong to an as yet unknown evolutionary phase and species. One that should be categorized as a new “early modern human”
Other researchers disagree with these claims, as they consider that the remains present a normal stage in the evolutionary phase. One that does not necessarily warrant the creation of a new category.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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