You know, there are days when I feel really old. Like, so old. Ancient almost.
But I have just been reminded that I haven’t actually been hanging around this earth for all that long. A group of European and Moroccan scientists just found the remains of five people who walked this beautiful earth somewhere around 315, ooo years ago.
The team believes that this is the oldest known evidence of modern humans, Homo Sapiens, ever found.
In a cave in Morocco, the researchers uncovered a skull, some bones and the teeth of what they believe to be five separate individuals who once lived in the area. They also found charcoal, which would show that the inhabitants had used fire. They also found what they call sophisticated tools. Those remnants were what lead the researchers to determine that those who had lived in the cave were actually modern humans.
They also point to the shapes of the jaw and skull cases of the specimens.
Other anthropologists were less sure, however. They say that the elongated shape of the skull and the shape of the face show that it is most likely a more primitive ancestor of modern man.
But anthropologist Chris Stringer of London’s Museum of Natural History thinks that the fossil find is significant because it most likely represents a transition between our ancient ancestors and our modern selves. He points out that the transition would not have been a sudden or immediate change, but would have been gradual and incremental. He said:
As evolution happens, as we go back in time, they are going to look less like modern humans. … They have faces which are really like bigger version of our faces.”
The scientists might not agree on whether or not this particular group of bones came from modern Homo Sapiens or an earlier version, but they show us that even 315,000 years ago, families were gathered around the hearth, sharing dinner.
I suddenly feel much younger.