The story of humans’ origins got a revision in 2017 | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


Year in Review

The story of humans’ origins got a revision in 2017

Homo sapiens’ emergence pushed back to around 300,000 years ago

By
8:29am, December 13, 2017
CT scans of Homo sapiens fossils

GETTING OLDER  Roughly 300,000-year-old fossils from Morocco have been attributed to Homo sapiens. CT scans, used to produce these reconstructions, reveal a modern-looking face (left) but a braincase similar to older, now extinct Homo species (right).

Human origins are notoriously tough to pin down. Fossil and genetic studies in 2017 suggested a reason why: No clear starting time or location ever existed for our species. The first biological stirrings of humankind occurred at a time of evolutionary experimentation in the human genus, Homo.

Homo sapiens’ signature skeletal features emerged piece by piece in different African communities starting around 300,000 years ago, researchers proposed. In this scenario, high, rounded braincases, chins, small teeth and faces, and other hallmarks of human anatomy eventually appeared as an integrated package 200,000 to 100,000 years ago.

This picture of gradual change contrasts with what scientists have often presumed, that H. sapiens emerged relatively

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More Humans & Society articles

From the Nature Index Paid Content