Newly-discovered fossils from a hilltop in the Sahara Desert may date back to more than 300,000 years, but they are certainly resonating with modern-day scientists. That's because the newfound Homo sapiens fossils debunk longstanding thought about the origins of humans' closest ancestors, according to USA Today.
Scientists excavated three young adults, one adolescent and a child of about seven or eight years old.
The unearthed 300,000 year-old-fossils outdated the next-oldest fossils that scientists had previously discovered, which clocked in at about 200,000 years old, and were found in eastern Africa--dubbed the "Garden of Eden" for its supposedly pivotal role as humanity's birthplace.
The new fossils, however, are from Morocco in far northern Africa, which supports the theory that the evolution of modern humans was a process that occurred across the African continent, not in one particular place.
“There is no Garden of Eden in Africa,” said Jean-Jacques Hublin, co-author of two new studies describing the fossils and a paleontologist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “Or if there is a Garden of Eden, it’s the size of Africa.”
The discovery is historic, nonetheless, because it confirms the idea that humans did not appear like the "Big Bang," according to paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood of George Washington University, who was not associated with the study.
The fossils were excavated from a site called Jebel Irhoud, where similar fossils were discovered in the 1960s. Scientists, who revisited the site to confirm their age of about 40,000 years, instead stumbled upon more fossils.