The tiny proportion of the Earth's existence that has included humanity has just expanded a little, if geochronologist Rainer Grün's new findings are correct. Using a new state-of-the-art technique, he has dated fossilised Homo sapiens remains excavated from Jebel Irhoud, Morroco over the past few decades back 300,000 years -- pushing the origin of humanity back 100,000 years. His team's findings are the cover story for this month's edition of Nature.
"The dating techniques I developed, currently being used at Griffith University, ensure minimal damage of the fossils but the process is very difficult to carry out," Grün said. You can read more about his methods in the paper.
The team's findings also suggest that the earliest humans evolved across the entire African continent, not just North Africa.
"The finds in Jebel Irhoud are one of the few places we've found modern skulls. That's why our understanding of human evolution is very patchy because we find so few human remains," Grün explained. "We now have to rethink a number of principles within human evolution. This shows our species has a very deep history in Africa."