Dating human fossils

In their recent work, Hublin and his colleagues unearthed fossils of several other individuals from a part of the Jebel Irhoud site that the miners left undisturbed.

The team's finds include skull and lower jaw bones, as well as stone tools and the remains of animals the humans hunted.

A team led by Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has recovered more human fossils and stone tools, along with compelling evidence that the site is far older than the revised estimate.

The simple answer is: Because dating fossils is really difficult.Originally thought to be 40,000-year-old Neandertals, the fossils were later reclassified as Homo sapiens—and eventually redated to roughly 160,000 years ago.Still, the Jebel Irhoud fossils remained something of a mystery because in some respects they looked more primitive than older H. Now new evidence is rewriting the Jebel Irhoud story again.Since the morphology of a fossil cannot be changed, it is obvious that the dating is the more subjective element of the two items.Yet, accurate dating of fossils is so essential that the scientific respectability of evolution is contingent upon fossils having appropriate dates.Scientific papers and news reports about new fossils so regularly come with estimates of age that it’s easy forget how hard-won such data can be.

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