Scientists have unearthed the oldest homo sapiens fossils in Morocco. The fossils have been dated back to 300,000 years ago, 100,000 years older than the oldest homo sapiens remains previously discovered. This will mark the first time these fossils have been discovered in North Africa. This find also expands mankind’s geographic origins to all of Africa, as other early homo sapiens fossils have been found in East and South Africa.
The fossils include a partial skull and lower jaw, and belong to five different individuals including three young adults, a teenager, and a small child. Around the site was also evidence of stone tools and fire.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this find is the fact that they show a transitional stage in our evolution. The skeletal structure is like that of a modern human, yet the brain cavity is more elongated. Evidence suggests that modern human lineage diverged from Neanderthals around 500,000 years ago. Because the 2nd oldest homo sapiens fossils found were about 200,000 years old, this 300,000-year-old find gives us at least a small glimpse into a gap in the fossil record, and helps us to understand more about our evolution.
Though these Homo sapiens from 300,000 years ago would bear a substantial resemblance to us, their elongated skulls (among other differences) would highlight just how much we have evolved in 300,000 years.