Searching in the remote deserts of Morocco, a group of Moroccan and European scientists discovered five individual skeletons that may well be the earliest Homo sapiens remains ever found until now.
Initial dating puts them at 315000 years old, surpassing the previous record by over 100,000 years. The team also found charcoal and fairly sophisticated stone tools, which may be evidence of the use of fire. But as with any discovery, it is not without its controversy.
Earliest Homo Sapiens Fossils Ever Discovered
While the first forms of humans, the Homo genus of binomial nomenclature, appeared over a million years ago, when and how our particular branch, the Homo sapiens, appeared is a matter of some debate. The oldest confirmed fossils of Homo sapiens were discovered in East Africa, and dating places them at around 200,000 years old.
The director of human evolution at the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Germany, Jean-Jacques Hublin, led the new team that discovered the skull, bones, and tools.
“This material represents the very root of our species,” he said in their study released in the journal Nature, “the oldest Homo sapiens ever found in Africa or elsewhere.”
There is, of course, a counter view. Rick Potts of the human origins program at the Smithsonian believes that parts like the cranium and facial shape are not quite developed enough example to be a modern human.
Potts stated that these new remains discovered in Morocco are a sort of “snapshot”. He considers that they are solely a part of the transition process from ‘archaic’ to modern humans.
He suggests these may only be a step in the gradual path toward modern humans. So the fossils may not necessarily represent an undiscovered ancestor or the beginning of our species, but more likely an unknown phase.
While there are questions as to whether these are the earliest Homo sapiens remains ever discovered, there is little doubt, or none at all, that they are extremely close. At 315000 years old, they are a fantastic find as it is.
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