The next-oldest fossils of Homo sapiens, the scientific name for humans, are about 200,000 years old.The 200,000-year-old fossils were found in eastern Africa, sometimes called the “Garden of Eden” for its supposedly pivotal role as the birthplace of humanity.Some 14,300-year-old fossilized human faeces have been found in Oregon, offering the oldest firm evidence yet of humans in North America, and the oldest human DNA in all the Americas.The material establishes a new benchmark for when founding groups could have roamed into North America, and helps to confirm previous studies showing people living in South America around this time.Digging on a hilltop in the Sahara Desert, scientists have found the most ancient known members of our own species, undermining longstanding ideas about the origins of humanity.The newfound Homo sapiens fossils — three young adults, one adolescent and a child of 7 or 8 — date back roughly 300,000 years, says a study in this week’s .Radio-carbon dating shows that elk have lived in northeast Asia for over 50,000 years.(Radio-carbon dating can’t date fossils older than this.) Scientists examined the DNA of almost 100 Pleistocene-aged and modern elk specimens from northeast Asia and North America.
So initial estimates of the latest that animals and humans could have walked into the cave system was 9,700 years ago.
Eastern Asia, Western Asia, Japan, Beringia and even Europe have all been suggested origination points for the earliest humans to enter the Americas because of apparent differences in cranial form between today’s Native Americans and the earliest known Paleoamerican skeletons.
“Individuals from 9,000 or more years ago have morphological attributes — physical form and structure — distinctive from later Native American peoples,” said Douglas Kennett, professor of environmental archaeology, Penn State.
Hublin’s team returned to the site in 2004 hoping to clarify that date — and instead stumbled upon more fossils.
They also applied new dating methods, which pushed back the age of all the fossils to a stunning 300,000 years.