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Human fossils are oldest yet

1:17pm, February 22, 2005

Our species, Homo sapiens, has a new pair of ultimate old-timers. The remains of two ancient individuals, found in Ethiopia in 1967, date to about 195,000 years ago, a research team reports in the Feb. 17 Nature.

The former most-senior H. sapiens fossils were a trio of roughly 160,000-year-old skulls unearthed in 1997 at Ethiopia's Herto site (SN: 6/14/03, p. 371: African Legacy: Fossils plug gap in human origins).

Ian McDougall of the Australian National University in Canberra and his coworkers trekked to the Kibish formation along Ethiopia's Omo River, where the 1967 excavators had found a partial H. sapiens skull, associated lower-body parts and another H. sapiens braincase. Scientists had dubbed the two individuals, respectively, Omo 1 and Omo 2.

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