V volcanic ash left over from a major eruption in antiquity has helped scientists find that Homo sapiens fossils discovered in 1967 are older than previously thought. Reuters.
This gives a new perspective on the development of the species.
Volcanic ash left over from a huge ancient eruption has helped scientists determine that important early Homo sapiens fossils found in Ethiopia in 1967 are older than previously believed, providing fresh insight into the dawn of our species. https://t.co/313Ob6J5Wh
The researchers analyzed the geochemical composition of a thick layer of ash found over sediments contained in the fossils.
They have been found to have formed as a result of a volcanic eruption that affected much of Ethiopia about 233,000 years ago.
The fossils were found under the ashes and preceded the eruption, scientists say. However, it is not clear how long they were there before him. Previously, fossils were thought to be no more than 200,000 years old.
The remains, named Omo the First, were found in southwestern Ethiopia in a region called Omo Kibish during an expedition by the late paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey.
These include many preserved parts of the skull, jaw, vertebrae and fragments of the arms and legs.
Scientists have sought greater clarity about the time of the origin of Homo sapiens in Africa.
The new findings are in line with the latest scientific models of human evolution, according to which Homo sapiens appeared 350,000 to 200,000 years ago, said volcanologist Celine Vidal of Cambridge University and lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature.
“Omo First is the oldest homo sapiens with unequivocally modern human traits,” said her colleague Clive Oppenheimer, who is also working on the project.
“These fossils show how resilient people are: we have survived, developed and migrated to an area that was so prone to natural disasters,” he said.
The study establishes the minimum age of the remains, but the maximum remains unclear. There is also a layer of ash under the sediments in the fossils, which has not been studied.
“It’s probably no coincidence that our earliest ancestors inhabited such a geoactive valley.”
rainfall in the lakes, providing fresh water and attracting animals, and was also a natural migration corridor stretching for thousands of kilometers, “says Vidal.
“Volcanoes, on the other hand, provided fantastic materials for making stone cannons, and sometimes we had to develop our cognitive skills when big eruptions changed the landscape.”