The challenge of direct dating old human fossils

"This really exposes how little we know of human evolution and the origin of our own genus Homo."One more possible "missing link" emerges.An even older member of the hominid group, those human ancestors and their close relatives (but not apes), comes to light.The agreement was that once the research was done, a museum would be opened featuring the findings from the Petralona cave, and the skull would be returned to be displayed in the museum – something that never happened.Dr Aris Poulianos, member of the UNESCO's IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences), later founder of the Anthropological Association of Greece , and an expert anthropologist who was working at the University of Moscow at the time, was invited by the Prime Minister of Greece to return to Greece to take a position of a University Chair in Athens.

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In 1959, in an area called Chalkidiki in Petralona, Northern Greece, a shepherd came across a small opening to a cave, which became visible when a thick covering of snow finally melted.Paleoanthropologists announced this week that fossils discovered in a cave in Morocco are the oldest known specimens of Homo sapiens, predating fossils found in Ethiopia by more than 100,000 years.The new findings challenge the idea of a single “cradle of humankind” in East Africa, and suggest the traditionally accepted story of human evolution may have to be revised.The resulting study, led by paleoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, suggests the emergence of the human species may have occurred much earlier than previously thought, and may have been a far more widespread process.A composite reconstruction of the earliest known Homo sapiens fossils from Jebel Irhoud (Morocco) based on micro computed tomographic scans of multiple original fossils.In the 1960s, a pair of partial skulls uncovered by Richard Leakey’s team in the Kibish formation, near the Omo River, were found to be some 195,000 years old.

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