Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Credit: Twitter / @ ChSLane

Credit: Twitter / @ ChSLane | Photo credit: Twitter

Key highlights

  • The fossils were first discovered in the 1960s in the Omo Kibish Formation in southwestern Ethiopia.
  • A new study from the University of Cambridge suggests that the remains may be much older than previously thought
  • To make the discovery, scientists dated the chemical fingerprints of volcanic ash layers

Ancient human fossils discovered in Ethiopia can be as much as 2,30,000 years old, experts have revealed in a study. The fossils are known as Omo I.

The remains, first discovered in the late 1960s, are one of the earliest examples of Homo sapiens fossils. But previous studies to date placed them below 2.00,000 years old.

But a new study from the University of Cambridge suggests that the remains are likely to precede a massive volcanic eruption in the area that occurred 2.30,000 years ago.

The team of scientists dated the chemical fingerprints of volcanic ash layers found above and below the sediment where the fossils were first discovered.

But the study is far from over, experts said. Right now, the new results have pushed the minimum age for Homo sapiens in East Africa back by 30,000 years. However, new studies in the future may further extend the age.

The discovery of the world’s oldest Homo sapiens fossils was announced by archaeologists in 2017. It was a 3.00,000 year old skull by Jebel Irhoud in Morocco.

For decades now, scientists have been trying to date the oldest fossils in East Africa accurately.

The Omo I remains were found in the Omo Kibish Formation in southwestern Ethiopia.

The region is an area of ​​high volcanic activity. It is also a rich source of early human artifacts.

“Using these methods, the generally accepted age of the Omo fossils is below 200,000 years, but there has been a lot of uncertainty around this date,” said Dr. Céline Vidal from Cambridge’s Department of Geography, the paper’s lead author.

“The fossils were found in a sequence beneath a thick layer of volcanic ash that no one had been able to date because the ash is too fine-grained,” he added.

Last year, researchers in China discovered an ancient skull that belonged to a completely new human species.

The specimen, which was actually found in Harbin in 1933, was nicknamed ‘Dragon Man’, and it first came to the attention of scientists in 2021.

It was allegedly kept hidden in a well for 85 years to protect it from the Japanese army.

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