A composite computer reconstruction of fossils from Jebel Irhoud shows a modern, flattened face paired with an archaic, elongated braincase. They include hundreds of stone flakes that had been hammered repeatedly to sharpen them and two cores—the lumps of stone from which the blades were flaked off—characteristic of the Middle Stone Age (MSA). A skull found in a South African cave suggests that the species went through a process of microevolution during a chaotic environmental shift. Some people might still consider these robust humans “highly evolved H. heidelbergensis,” says paleoanthropologist Alison Brooks of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She and others, though, think they do look like our kind. By Ann Gibbons Jun. The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension to the site inscribed in 1999, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was found. Stone tools and the fossil skull of a butchered hippo were the first artefacts to be picked up. ', Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. 210,000-year-old human skull in Greece is the oldest found outside Africa. 7, 2017 , 1:00 PM. It is widely thought that two other hominin (human-like species) existed alongside Paranthropus robustus at that time in Africa, they are Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis. He added the skull discovery presented a rare example of "microevolution" within human lineage showing that Paranthropus robustus evolved their iconic chewing adaptations incrementally, possibly over hundreds of thousands of years, in response to environmental change. 3. Enigmatic skull may be the oldest modern human outside Africa. Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines. A nearly two-million-year-old Homo erectus skullcap was found in South Africa. (The tools also confirm that the Jebel Irhoud people controlled fire.) Named Homo naledi, the species has been assigned to the genus Homo, to which modern humans also belong. Due to the sheer scale of this comment community, we are not able to give each post the same level of attention, but we have preserved this area in the interests of open debate. A nearly two-million-year-old Homo erectus skullcap was found in South Africa. © 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr Angeline Leece told the BBC: "Most of the fossil record is just a single tooth here and there so to have something like this is very rare, very lucky.". sapiens evolution happened on a continental scale,” Gunz says. Neandertals show the same pattern: Putative Neandertal ancestors such as 400,000-year-old fossils in Spain have elongated, archaic skulls with specialized Neandertal traits in their faces. A 210,000-year-old human skull could provide new evidence that our species left Africa much earlier than previously thought. In 1925 South African anthropologist Raymond Dart coined the genus name Australopithecus to identify a child’s skull recovered from mining operations at Taung in South Africa.He called it Australopithecus africanus, meaning “southern ape of Africa.” From then until 1960 almost all that was known about australopiths came from limestone caves in South Africa. It allows our most engaged readers to debate the big issues, share their own experiences, discuss real-world solutions, and more. But the new dates suggest that this kind of toolkit, found at sites across Africa, may be a hallmark of H. sapiens. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. Just over 90 years ago a discovery was made that started a fascinating journey exploring human evolution in Africa. “This stuff is a time and a half older than anything else put forward as H. sapiens,” says paleoanthropologist John Fleagle of the State University of New York in Stony Brook. The discovery was made by a team led by Dr. Maciej Jórdeczka from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) PAS in Poznań, during excavations in the ancient Khor Shambat settlement, which was located near the Nile on a small hill. If confirmed, the findings would be the oldest known Paranthropus robustus, as well as the oldest known Homo erectus, nudging out the next oldest known specimen by 150,000 to 200,000 years. In 2007, researchers published a date of 160,000 years based on radiometric dating of a human tooth. Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate? This rare fossil indicates that homo sapiens, our human race, originated in East Africa and migrated to the Middle East about 50,000-70,000 years ago. Once Hublin saw the date, “we realized we had grabbed the very root of the whole species lineage,” he says. Archaeological and ethnographic research has shown that humans have been using decorations almost always and everywhere in the world, for several different purposes. ... 2015 A jawbone unearthed in Ethiopia could, some suggest, be the oldest fossil of our Homo genus. “This shows a pan-African phenomenon, with people expanding and contracting across the continent for a long time.". “These hominins are on the fringes of the world at that time,” says archaeologist Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. The new findings may help researchers sort out how these selected fossils from the past 600,000 years are related to modern humans and to one another. Skull fragments from an early Homo erectus individual were discovered in South Africa—the first time the species was found in the region. But the date may also widen the distance between H. sapiens and another species, H. naledi, that lived at this time in South Africa. “We were very lucky,” Hublin says. Australian researchers have unearthed a two million-year-old skull in South Africa, a haul that could throw more light on human evolution. Morris told Grine that the skull had been discovered in the 1950s at Hofmeyr, in South Africa. The paleoanthropological site self-proclaimed as the Cradle of Humankind is located about 50 km (31 mi) northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, in the Gauteng province. “From a dating standpoint, I think they’ve done a really good job,” says geochronologist Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong in Australia. 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