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10-Feb-2017 17:33

Within that same area of the site were the bones of gazelles, zebra, wildebeest and the antelope-like hartebeest.

Paleoclimate data points to the area being more humid than today, while the animal bones found suggest, said Mc Pherron, “a landscape that is mainly open, with clumps of trees.” “The overall picture one gets is of a hunting encampment, as they were moving across the area in search of subsistence,” Mc Pherron added.

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Pushing back the start date of our species by at least 100,000 years with today’s findings does, however, beg the question just how far back can we go?

Hublin put the cap on finding Homo sapiens at 600,000 years — the estimated time, based on genetic models, of a split in the , and the other to Neanderthals and Denisovans.

The results were startling: Most of the fossils and tools are about 300,000 years old.

The Florisbad and Jebel Irhoud hominins may represent isolated populations of early that dispersed from an as-yet-unknown “cradle” but eventually died out; Hublin’s team believe that they are not likely to be directly ancestral to modern humans.

The researchers found an area of the site that had been preserved, and discovered more fossils — from at least five individuals — plus numerous stone tools and other artifacts, some of which appeared to have been heated in a controlled fire.

While the bones may get all the headlines, these bits of flint, apparently flaked off into the fire as tools were sharpened, are just as important: The material was perfect for dating using the thermoluminescence method.

Despite the modern facial structure of the 300,000-year-old Jebel Irhoud hominin, the braincase (in blue) was more primitive, suggesting that the shape of the brain, and possibly cognitive ability, continued to evolve in Where The Zebra And The Antelope Play While Jebel Irhoud today is surrounded by desert, about 300,000 years ago it would have been more hospitable to hominins and their prey, said Shannon Mc Pherron, lead author of today’s paper dating the fossils and artifacts.

When the hominins lived, the layer of the quarried hill in which their fossils were found would have been a cave providing shelter from the elements.The Face of Us The newly described Jebel Irhoud hominins — at least three adults, one adolescent and a child the researchers believe was about 8 years old at time of death — have an intriguing mix of traits.Their faces were essentially ours: “It’s the face of people you could cross in the street today,” says Hublin of the best preserved Jebel Irhoud partial skull.Analysis showed it came from a site more than 20 kilometers away, suggesting the hominins intentionally sought out quality tool-making material and carried it with them.