« Our analysis convinced us that this material represents the very root of our species, the oldest Homo sapiens ever found in Africa or elsewhere, » said Jean-Jacques Hublin, lead study author, paleoanthropologist and professor at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. The discovery was presented in a study in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
An international team, led by the French paleoanthropologist and Abdelouahed Ben-Ncer of the National Institute of Archeology and Heritage of Rabat, has analyzed five fossils – three adults, an adolescent and a child – as belonging to the species of modern human, Homo sapiens. Located at Jebel Irhoud, southwest of Casablanca, in a barite site.
Until now, the oldest known fossils of our species dated back just 195,000 years. The Moroccan fossils, by contrast, are roughly 300,000 years old. Remarkably, they indicate that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways.