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The study’s authors say the site, which was once a cave, may have been used as a hunting camp.The new date for the Irhoud skeletons “changes a lot,” Brooks says.
Armed with these new findings, Hawks, project leader Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand and their collaborators are raising their bets on controversial claims they made on the basis of the first set of If the researchers are right, southern Africa may have played a more prominent role in the evolution of the lineage leading to us than most experts have envisioned.
The team had several labs independently date the same samples without knowing one another’s results to help ensure accuracy.
specimens representing at least three individuals from another part of the cave system, the Lesedi Chamber, located about 100 meters from the Dinaledi Chamber.
But these ancient people had small faces and small chins much like ours, and their teeth look like ours, too.
The new date for the fossils suggests some elements of Homo sapiens anatomy developed a more modern appearance much earlier than thought, says Adam Van Arsdale of Wellesley College, who was not involved with the study.
In addition to shaking up the family tree and the biogeography of human evolution, Berger and his team are taking on enduring ideas about the behavior and cognitive abilities of seemingly primitive human species.
They contend the discovery of more bones in another difficult to access part of the cave system supports their hypothesis that indicate it lived at a time when human ancestors were making sophisticated stone tools in the Middle Stone Age tradition.
Digging on a hilltop in the Sahara Desert, scientists have found the most ancient known members of our own species, undermining longstanding ideas about the origins of humanity.
The newfound Homo sapiens fossils — three young adults, one adolescent and a child of 7 or 8 — date back roughly 300,000 years, says a study in this week’s .
Hublin’s team returned to the site in 2004 hoping to clarify that date — and instead stumbled upon more fossils.
They also applied new dating methods, which pushed back the age of all the fossils to a stunning 300,000 years.
Most of the bones belong to an adult male, nicknamed Neo, which means “gift” in the local Sesotho language.