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Oldest Human Fossils are Older than Assumed

The Oldest Known Homo sapiens Fossils may be more than 35,000 years older than previously thought. Kibish Omo I, first unearthed in Ethiopia in 1967, contained only bone and skull fragments which were difficult to date directly, and experts long remained divided over their age.

Geologists in 2005 analyzed the layer of rock just underneath the find and determined Omo I was at least 195,000 years old. That made the Homo sapiens Fossils at least that old—and the oldest ever discovered at the time.

But there was still a lot of uncertainty. Vidal, a volcano expert at the University of Cambridge, said getting a more precise date meant analyzing the thick layer of ash deposited above the Fossils. That was nearly impossible since the ash was delicate, almost like flour.According to the study, the ash revealed the layer where Omo I was found to be 233,000 years old, with a 22,000-year margin of error. He added that the new minimum age for Omo I is more consistent with the most recent theories of human evolution.

It also brings it closer to the age given to today’s oldest Homo sapiens remains, discovered in Morocco in 2017 and dated to 300,000 years ago. The skulls and teeth unearthed in Jebel Irhoud torpedoed the long-held theory that we emerged from an East African “cradle of humankind.”  But for Mounier, the physical characteristics of the Moroccan Fossils are a less convincing ancestor of today’s humans than Omo I.

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