>> Turning our understanding of the origins of the human race on its head. Fossils unearthed on a Moroccan hillside, said to be the oldest Homo sapiens remains on record, and suggesting that the human race appeared more than 100.000 years earlier than previously thought. Reuters Ben Hirschler has been following the story.
>> This is a major upset to conventional thinking, it's gonna force people to rewrite some of the textbooks about human evolution.>> The fossils were found at the Jebel Irhoud site between Marrakesh and Morocco's Atlantic coast. That the fossils were found here is also a challenge to conventional thinking.
>> All the experts had thought that Homo sapiens, our species evolved 200,000 years ago in a single garden of Eden in East Africa. Now, it seems that we were around at least 100,000 years before that, and not only in East Africa, but also in Morocco. That suggests that Homo sapiens must have evolved in multiple places across the African continent, not just one cradle of mankind.
>> Researchers found skulls, teeth and long bones from five individuals, three adults, an adolescent, and a child aged roughly eight. All that in a cave setting next to the bones of animals they had hunted, including gazelles and zebras. Researchers determined that the group is 300,000 years old by dating stone tools, thought to be knives and spears, found next to the people.
Though these hunter-gatherers are the same species as us, they were not exactly the same.>> From the bone structure that they found at the site, it looks like they had very similar faces to modern humans, but the brain cavity was a different shape. It was longer and lower, not so round as a modern human's.
>> Lead researcher, Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, has a simple response to that. Put a hat on them, he says, and these Homo sapiens would blend in just fine with their descendents.