picture by Céline Vidal
“The place’re you from?” one character asks one other on the Firesign Theatre’s traditional 1969 album How Can You Be in Two Locations at As soon as When You’re Not Wherever at All. “Nairobi, ma’am,” the opposite replies. “Isn’t everyone?” Like many of the numerous multi-layered gags on their albums, this one makes a cultural reference, presumably to the discoveries made by famed paleoanthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey over the earlier 20 years. Their discovery of fossils in Kenya and elsewhere did a lot to advance the thesis that humankind developed in Africa, and that the method was taking place greater than 1.75 million years earlier than.
Like all scientific breakthroughs, the Leakeys’ work solely prompted extra questions — or fairly, created extra alternatives for refining and including element to the related physique of information. Subsequent digs throughout Africa have produced additional proof of how far our species and its predecessors return, and the place precisely the evolutionary progress occurred.
Simply this month, Nature printed a brand new paper on the “age of the oldest identified Homo sapiens from jap Africa.” These new findings about identified fossils, initially found in southwestern Ethiopia in 1967, recommend that the time has come for one more revision of the lengthy pre-history of humanity.
picture by Céline Vidal
The paper’s authors, writes Reuters’ Will Dunham, “used the geochemical fingerprints of a thick layer of ash discovered above the sediments containing the fossils to establish that it resulted from an eruption that spewed volcanic fallout over a large swathe of Ethiopia roughly 233,000 years in the past.” These fossils “embody a fairly full cranial vault and decrease jaw, some vertebrae and elements of the legs and arms.” After their preliminary discovery by the late Richard Leakey, son of Louis and Mary (and a person genuinely from Nairobi, born and raised), the fossils buried by this prehistoric Vesuvius have been beforehand believed to be “not more than about 200,000 years previous.”
Dunham quotes the paper‘s lead creator, College of Cambridge volcanologist Celine Vidal, as saying this discovery aligns with “the latest scientific fashions of human evolution putting the emergence of Homo sapiens someday between 350,000 to 200,000 years in the past.” Although Vidal and her group’s evaluation of the ash’s geochemical composition has decided the minimal age of Omo I, as these fossils are identified, the utmost age stays an open query. Or at the very least, it awaits the efforts of researchers thus far the “ash layer beneath the sediment containing the fossils” and render a extra exact estimate. And when that’s established, it would then, ideally, turn into materials for the subsequent huge absurdist comedy troupe.
by way of Hyperallergic
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and tradition. His tasks embody the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Faceboook.