“My reaction was a big ‘wow,'” archaeologist Jean-Jacques Hublin tells the Guardian. Hublin and his team recently discovered Homo sapien fossils in an old mine in Morocco that dating tests reveal are 300,000 years old. Prior to the discovery, the earliest known Homo sapien fossils were about 195,000 years old. The new fossils, obviously, change a lot of what we thought we knew about human history. It was believed that the earliest humans arose in eastern Africa about 200,000 years ago, but this discovery in northern Africa changes the location of what we think of as humanity's "Garden of Eden," USA Today reports. "If there is a Garden of Eden, it’s ... the size of Africa," Hublin says.
The discovery also shapes how we think of human evolution. The fossils discovered by Hublin had many features we associate with modern humans, including their facial structure. “The face of the specimen we found is the face of someone you could meet on the tube in London,” Hublin says. However, the brain case was more elongated than in modern humans. This is evidence the modern human brain evolved in Homo sapiens and wasn't inherited from an ancestor. However, there is disagreement between scientists not involved in the find whether Homo sapiens really were living all over Africa 300,000 years ago and if Hublin's fossils are even Homo sapiens in the first place and not some earlier species, the Los Angeles Times reports. (Read more homo sapiens stories.)