Humans 100,000 years older
HOMO sapiens appeared at least 260,000 to 350,000 years ago. That’s the conclusion being drawn from a new fossil find in Morocco.
Previously, the oldest known fossils clearly from our species were a bit less than 200,000 years old, from Ethiopia.
For the new work, scientists studied DNA from human remains found in South Africa. The fossils came from three Stone Age hunter-gatherers who lived about 2000 years ago, and farmers who lived about 300 to 500 years ago.
The researchers compared their genetic material to DNA from other ancient people as well as modern-day humans.
The goal was to use differences to estimate when populations split from each other.
Since those splits had occurred between people, our species must have emerged by the time the splits happened, said Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University in Sweden.
Jakobsson and his team put the earliest split they could detect at 260,000 to 350,000 years ago. That’s when ancestors of today’s Khoisan peoples in Africa diverged from the ancestors of other people, they calculated in a paper released on Thursday by the journal Science.
GROUNDBREAKING: Researchers using DNA comparisons have pushed back human evolution by 100,000 years.