Hu­mans 100,000 years older

The Weekend Post - - World -

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.

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