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South Africa Is Back in Contention for the Origin of Humankind

  • Re-dating of fossils pushes back age to 3.6 million years
  • South Africa, East Africa have major sites of hominin fossils
The Sterkfontein skulls.

The Sterkfontein skulls.

Source: University of the Witwatersrand

Updated on

Fossils of early human ancestors in South Africa may be 1 million years older than previously thought, according to a new study, putting the country back in contention for the place where humankind may have originated.

The study of hominin remains from the Australopithecus genus found at the Sterkfontein Caves north of Johannesburg -- including the famed Mrs Ples fossil -- puts their ages at between 3.4 million and 3.6 million years, Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand said in statement on Monday. That would make them older than the Lucy fossil found in Ethiopia in 1979, which is 3.2 million years old.