You should always be thorough–in your work, your relationships, your life. Leave no stone, or skull, unturned. That would certainly be the advice I would give archaeologists and anthropologists alike after the latest finding.
What does this new finding suggest? We are a lot older than we thought we were…errrr, our species may be a lot older than we thought.
According to the Independent, anthropologists have found evidence that suggest our species is 100,000 years older than we had originally thought–from 600,000 years old to 700,000 years old:
[N]ew evidence outlined in two papers published in the journal Nature challenges that hypothesis. Instead, the authors describe recently discovered remains that suggest the first Homo sapiens showed up more than 100,000 years earlier than we thought in a place many experts didn’t suspect.
The fossils could represent the earliest known examples of H. sapiens ever found (if confirmed by further research), and they serve as evidence that members of our species lived beyond sub-Saharan Africa.
Where were these? The same place scientists discovered fossils “roughly 40,000 years old, a few thousand years before our extinct European relatives, the Neanderthals, were thought to have vanished”.
But, if they would have dug a little deeper over forty years ago, they would have found this tremendous discovery:
[A]nthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin and his team from the Max Planck Institute excavated the half-dozen layers of soil beneath the land where the skull and arm bones had been discovered. There, the team found remains that they say belong to at least five individuals, along with a set of flint blades which had likely been burned, perhaps by nearby cooking fires.
Using a dating technique that measures how much radiation had built up in the flint since it was heated, Hublin and his team say the ancient bones belong to people who lived roughly 300,000-350,000 years ago.
“These dates were a big wow,” Hublin said on a recent call with reporters.
Still, the biggest discovery didn’t come until the team looked more closely at the skulls.
When Hublin peered into the cavernous eye sockets of one of the skulls, he was astonished.
Instead of the robust features he was accustomed to seeing on the faces of an ancient human ancestor like Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis, this face bore a striking resemblance to his own. Where an erectus skull had a single, protruding brow ridge, these individuals had smaller, separated ones. Rather than a large face and a flattened skull, these people had small faces and rounder skulls.
In other words, these skulls look more like us, today. They might even blend in a crowd.
Hublin believes “the unique combination of advanced and archaic features suggests something profound…the very root of our species.”
This means our species did not originate in sub-Saharan Africa. As Hublin states, “There is no Garden of Eden in Africa, or if there is, it is all of Africa.”
At the very least, these findings will challenge how archaeologists “think about human origins.”
University of Southampton professor Sonia Zakrzewski stated, “It really sets the world alight in terms of the possibilities for understanding the evolution of Homo sapiens. It certainly means that we need to rethink our models.”
What do you think of this discovery? Sound off below!