WASHINGTON – Genetic data from seven humans who lived 2,500 years ago in South Africa suggest that Homo sapiens arose 350,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought, according to a study published on Thursday in Science.
Swedish and South African scientists managed to identify the genetic sequence of the remains of three hunter-gatherer individuals who lived between 2,300-1,800 years ago, and four peasants who lived between 500-300 years ago.
All of them lived in the present province of KwaZulu-Natal, on the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa.
Scientists concluded that the evolution from archaic humans to Homo sapiens occurred between 350,000-260,000 years ago, rather than 180,000 years ago which previous studies had posited based on remains found in East Africa.
The authors of the study, from the University of Uppsala (Sweden), the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) and the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), consequently supported the Pan-African origin theory of Homo sapiens, with simultaneous evolutions throughout the continent.
In fact, in June 2017, fossils of more than 300,000 years old found in Morocco suggested that the evolution of archaic man to Homo sapiens could have occurred much earlier than what has been established to date.