Suddenly, the eyes of scientists turned to Morocco, which for decades has focused its search for the origin of mankind in East Africa.
A long search for answers about the origin and evolution of the human race led scientists from east to west of the continent. Morocco has become the new cradle of humanity.
It happened when scientists reexamined a forgotten Neanderthal skull that was found in a cave in Mount Igud, located 50km southeast of Safi, Morocco.
Returning again in 2004 to the excavation of the fossil, experts found fossilized bone remains presented in the skull, jaw, teeth, bones of the legs and arms of at least five people, including a child and a boy, most of them in one layer in which stone tools were also found .
In 1961, barite miners found in a cave in Jebel Igod, 75 kilometers from the western Moroccan coast, a skull with an amazing primitive formation, which prompted it to be attributed first to the genus of African Neanderthals.
The surprise was witnessed in 2017, when the processes of age determination of these skeletal remains of Homo sapiens, the human species to which all humans on the globe belong, revealed an age of exactly 315 thousand years, while previously it was believed that the age of this species dates back to 195 000 years, based on bone remains found at the Omo site in Ethiopia. Thus, this important discovery added more than 100 thousand years to the history of mankind on Earth.
On this occasion, paleoanthropologist John Flegel of New York University says: “The remains found are twice as old as the oldest fossils found previously for Homo sapiens.”
The results of the study, published in the journal Nature, confirm that ancient Homo sapiens first developed modern facial features, while the back of the skull remained elongated, as it was in the earliest human ancestors.
Using the amazing Moroccan skull from Mount Igod, scientists observed that faces evolved into modern features faster than the skull and brain, and gradually assumed the spherical shape seen in the Hirtu Buri fossils in Ethiopia and in modern humans.
“It was a long process, and people didn’t get their modern look overnight,” says Jean-Jacques Hublin, a French anthropologist who was one of the first to become interested in fossils in Morocco.
By studying fossilized human remains found in Morocco, Hublin’s team “realized that they had fully understood the root and origin of man,” as the French scientist put it.
The skull of Mount Igod is described as one of the transitional skulls, as its classification specifically poses a real problem, which is why the team named it after early Homo sapiens.
Hobelen’s team does not indicate that ancient Igud man was the direct ancestor of all other modern humans. Most likely, these ancient people were part of a large intermarriage population that spread across Africa when the Sahara was green, about 300,000 to 330,000 years ago.