Earliest human remains in eastern Africa dated to more than 230,000 years ago.The age of the oldest Fossil in eastern Africa widely recognized as representing our species, Homo sapiens, has long been uncertain. Now, dating of a massive volcanic eruption in Ethiopia reveals they are much older than previously thought.The remains – known as Omo I – were found in Ethiopia in the late 1960s, and scientists have been attempting to date them precisely ever since, by using the chemical fingerprints of volcanic ash layers found above and below the sediments in which the Fossil were found.
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Cambridge, has reassessed the age of the Omo I remains – and Homo sapiens as a species. Earlier attempts to date the Fossil suggested they were less than 200,000 years old, but the new research shows they must be older than a colossal volcanic eruption that took place 230,000 years ago. The results are reported in the journal Nature
Researchers said that the forensic approach provides a new minimum age for Homo sapiens in eastern Africa, but the challenge still remains to provide a cap, a maximum age, for their emergence, which is widely believed to have taken place in this region. It’s possible that new finds and new studies may extend the age of our species even further back in time.”