Methods dating human fossils
The new findings, published in the February 17 issue of the journal Nature, establish Omo I and II as the oldest known fossils of modern humans.
The prior record holders were fossils from Herto, Ethiopia, which dated the emergence of modern humans in Africa to about 160,000 years ago.
Evidence of culture is not extensively documented in the archaeological record until around 50,000 years ago.
"[Scientists] who believe that modern human behavior only appeared abruptly about 50,000 years ago will see [the new date as] further expanding the distinction and the temporal gap between modern anatomy and modern behavior." Dating Through Geology Somewhat surprisingly, the first thing the scientific team had to do to come up with the new dates was to relocate the precise location where the fossil remains had been excavated in 1967.
They were able to do this using National Geographic Society video footage taken during the first excavation.
"Absolute" dating means finding a specific age for an object.
A sample of volcanic ash, for instance, can be given an absolute date of 3.18 million years old.
The age of volcanic rock and ash can be "pinpointed" to within roughly twenty thousand years -- a mere moment in Earth's 4-billion-year history.