Ethiopian skulls give clue to human existence 230,000 years ago

Stephen Nartey August 28, 2022
Human skull. Image: Wikimedia Commons/bansidhe

It is considered one of the oldest linkages to human existence. The Omo I relics was initially credited to be 130,000 years old, according to human origins. But, new studies suggest the brain case could be over 200,000 years old.

The name Omo I is used to refer to remains of early human species. The bones which are stored at the national museum of Ethiopia were excavated from the country’s Kibish rock formation. The mystery surrounding these human remains has to do with the ever-changing assumptions about how old the bones could be.

The bones were thought to be 130,000 years when it was first excavated in 1967. They used freshwater mollusk buried in the skulls to determine this age. Later, according to Stony Brook University’s historian John Fleagle, another set of bones emerged whose existence was pegged at 160,000 years.

Scientists from the University of Utah in their quest to determine how old the Omo I is established that it was 195,000 years. This conclusion that the relics were 195,000 was based on scientific interpretations made in 2004. The researchers relied on the chemical fingerprints of the ashes found within the layers of the rift.

The collection of Omo I comprises two partial skulls, arm, leg, foot and pelvis bones. These bones are considered the oldest fossils in human history. This makes Ethiopia home to the oldest forms of human history.

But, with modern technology and a new way of dating human existence, geologists from Cambridge University analyzed ashes from the volcanic eruptions and their remnants on the skulls to predict when the fossils around the bones first erupted.

The East African Rift Valley is prone to high volcanic activity making it home to the layers and relics of human existence in the ashes buried there. It has been one of the sites that has engaged the attention of scientists attempting to establish the precise age people walked the face of the earth.

The lead author at Cambridge University’s Department of Geography, Dr. Celine Vidal, said their research was driven by the general uncertain surrounding the different years assigned to the first bones. She said her team found the fossils buried below a thick layer of volcanic ash that earlier scientists had not come into contact with.

According to her, with the assistance of radiometric techniques, they were able to determine the bones were 36,000 years older.

Dr. Vial said the accepted age of Omo I exceeds 200,000 years contrary to what researchers suggested.

These scientific findings point to a reality that early men’s existence began in the eastern part of Africa and later migrated to other parts of the world.

This new data also suggests that early human activity likely took place between 360,000 and 100,000 years ago in Africa.

The team at Cambridge University also found another set of bones at the site tagged Omo II sparking fresh insights into whether men existed even before 200,000 years ago.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 28, 2022


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