New fossils found in Morocco date our species back 100,000 years

Source: GULSHAN KHAN/Getty Images

It turns out our species may have been around a whole lot longer than we thought — about 100,000 years longer, to be exact.

New artifacts from our ancient Homo sapiens predecessors found in a fossil-rich region of Morocco date back about 300,000 years, according to findings published in the journal Nature. Previously, the oldest fossils on record placed our species in Ethiopia about 195,000 years ago. Additional findings reveal that this ancient population didn't expand out of Africa for another 125,000 years.

The newly discovered fossils — which consist of a skull, a jaw, teeth and some stone tools — reveal that these ancient subjects shared many characteristics with modern humans, but largely differed in terms of brain size and development. Most notably, the fossils show that our 300,000-year-old ancestors had much longer brains than we do today.

Jean-Jacques Hublin, a Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig who reported the discovery, said that while these fossils come from a very young stage in the species’ development, he believes there existed an even earlier stage that has yet to be discovered.

Hublin also explained that it's difficult to place the origin of the species in one specific region of Africa. Rather, he believes the entire continent served as a “Garden of Eden” for early Homo sapiens.

How's that for some family history?

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Abbey Schubert

Abbey is an editorial intern with Mic's news team. She's entering her senior year at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, where she studies magazine writing and editing.

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