When documenting the progression of the human species, it’s important to know where we came from and how long we’ve been here. While the oldest human remains were located in Africa some time ago, the age of the remains has been in question. For years, archaeologists have believed that they were about 200,000 years old. Recently, these remains have been shown to be even older!
How Old Are The Remains?
The remains in Africa – which are known as Omo I – were first discovered in the 1960s. After their discovery, they were assessed as being less than 200,000 years old. However, Sarah Collins noted that this was increased by more than 30,000 years in her article, Earliest Human Remains in Eastern Africa Dated to more than 230,000 Years ago for the University of Cambridge.
While it’s still difficult to pinpoint the exact age of the remains, researchers were able to determine a range based on the volcanic ash that coated them. They were able to date the ash from the eruption of the Ethiopian Rift’s Shala volcano to about 233,000 years ago, which means that the Omo I and her people must have lived there during that time.
Why Does It Matter?
In Brian Hardwerk’s article for The Smithsonian Magazine, East Africa’s Oldest Modern Human Fossil Is Way Older Than Previously Thought, he states that knowing the age of fossils like this plays an essential role in knowing the evolutionary timeline of the species. When scientists get a chance to analyze these remains with the right timeframe in place, they can establish how certain aspects like appearance, behavior, and habits have changed over time. This information can show how closely modern man is linked to older ones.
This is a part of our new series – “Hidden Gems in Black History” where we highlight uncommon facts throughout Black history. Join us every day in Black History Month for interesting facts about Black people and places that you likely haven’t heard before!