Dating human fossils

This process had Initially dated a mandible discovered in the 1960s to 160,000 years old, but a more accurate analysis of the radioactivity in the surrounding sediment came up with a reading that once again pointed at about 300,000 years.

"In the late '80s, there were the first results of anatomically modern humans in Israel at about 100,000 years," says Rainer Grün of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, whose research helped make the dating processes a little less destructive than usual.


While reliable, the method's accuracy relies on knowing the background radiation of the sample.Researchers have used new dating techniques to confirm that human fossils unearthed in Morocco are roughly 300,000 years old.The landmark discovery is forcing a rethink not only on how the first populations of Today, Jebel Irhoud is a rocky outcrop about 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.While some of their more primitive characteristics look similar to those of other ancient humans, it's not clear whether they all retained these traits over time, or if there was ongoing mixing of populations.

The Sahara desert makes travelling by foot into north-west Africa challenging today, but with the climate swinging from wet to dry every 20,000 years or so, it might have allowed for an easier passage for early humans.With its big brain but primitive skull shape, the skull was initially assumed to be an African Neandertal.


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