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Discovery of 300,000-year-old remains rewrites story of human evolution

Skull found at Jebel Irhoud (Ryan Somma)Fossil bones discovered in an old mine in Morocco, northwestern Africa, have challenged the idea that Homo sapiens—modern humans—first evolved in East Africa 200,000 years ago. Jean-Jacques Hublin and the team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig were stunned when a tooth and stone tools found with the bones they had unearthed were dated to about 300,000 years old. This makes the remains the oldest known specimens of Homo sapiens. The discovery indicates that modern humans were already present—and probably all over Africa—100,000 years earlier than scientists previously thought.



Site in Ethiopia where human fossils found
Until now, the earliest fossils of our kind were from Ethiopia in East Africa and were dated to be approximately 195,000 years old. The Moroccan discovery suggests that, rather than modern humans emerging in a single ”cradle of humanity”, East Africa, around 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens was already present across the length of Africa at least 100,000 years earlier, and slowly evolved in different parts of the continent. 

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