The dawn of humanity is a subject that has long intrigued us. Scientists have been trying to determine the exact date of origin for a long time, but with little success. Every now and then, they find fossils that push the date back a few more centuries. But the effort continues. Scientists have focused their research on finding fossils in East Africa as they represent our species, Homo Sapiens. They recently dated the first human remains found after a massive volcanic eruption in Ethiopia to over 230,000 years ago, again pushing the age of the oldest fossils much further back than previously thought.
The remains – known as Omo I – were found in Ethiopia in the late 1960s. Scientists have been trying to date them ever since. They relied on chemical fingerprints from layers of volcanic ash found in the sediments in which the fossils were found. Previous attempts have put the age of the fossils at less than 200,000 years.
Now, in research led by the UK-based University of Cambridge, scientists have determined that fossils of Omo I found in Ethiopia must be older than volcanic eruptions that happened 230,000 years ago.
They have published their research in the journal Nature.
Omo I’s remains were found in the Omo Kibish Formation in the East African Rift Valley of southwestern Ethiopia, a rich source of early human remains and artifacts such as stone tools. Dr. Celine Vidal, the paper’s lead author, and her colleagues performed a new geochemical analysis of the volcanic ash and concluded that the samples were over 230,000 years old.
Vidal said in a declaration on the University of Cambridge website that she was ecstatic when she obtained the data and discovered that the oldest Homo sapiens in the region was older than previously thought.
While their study shows a new minimum age for Homo sapiens, the researchers said it’s possible the species could be even older. They hope that new discoveries will shed more light on the age of humanity and can show that we may be older than that.
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