As humans, we tend to wonder where exactly we came from, and some of us make a living off figuring out the answer. It was long thought by anthropologists that homo sapiens appeared in Africa roughly 200 millennia ago. That theory, however, has been called into question with newly found humanoid skeletal fragments that were one hundred millennia older than they expected.
Miners working in Marrakesh at the beginning of the 1960s discovered a shard of human bone in the limestone wall they were taking apart. When another bone appeared, archaeologists made it their mission to dig up the site and analyze the other remains, which were deemed to be around 40 millennia old. Excavation of the area stopped for four decades, with researchers having assumed there was nothing left to find.
In the early 2000s, Jean-Jacques Hublin, a Max Planck Institute anthropologist accompanied by a team of workers, traveled to the site and dug deeper into the earth. It wasn’t much of a surprise to them to find more humanoid remains, but they were shocked when their dating system predicted them to be more than 300 millennia old.
Upon further inspection of the skulls, the team were doubly shocked to discover features found in modern human skulls. The single jutted brow ridge, large facial area, and flattened top of Homo erectus’ skull was replaced by two separate brow ridges, a small facial area, and rounded top, much like that of Homosapien. The skull’s braincase was an ambiguous cross between an ancient hominid being and a present day human.
These discoveries were revolutionary, as many researchers predicted from their findings that humans had originated solely from sub-Saharan Africa. It now seems that ancient hominids lived all over Africa, and the Moroccan area is where it all begun.
As anthropologists collect and analyze new information about our origins, theories evolve and become more accurate. In a few decades’ time, we may know with near certainty where we really come from.