Homo sapiens idaltu
|Homo sapiens idaltu
Temporal range: Pleistocene (Lower Paleolithic), 0.16 Ma
|Subspecies:||H. s. idaltu|
|Homo sapiens idaltu
White et al., 2003
Homo sapiens idaltu (Afar: Idaltu; "elder" or "first born"), also called Herto Man, is the name given to a number of hominin fossils found in 1997 in Herto Bouri, Ethiopia. They date to around 160,000 years ago.
As "certain cranial traits are outside the range of modern human variation", paleoanthropologists determined that the finds belong to an extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens who lived in Pleistocene Africa. According to scientists, "[the fossil findings] predate classic Neanderthals and lack their derived features [...] are morphologically and chronologically intermediate between archaic African fossils and later anatomically modern Late Pleistocene humans [...] represent the probable immediate ancestors of anatomically modern humans [...] their anatomy and antiquity constitute strong evidence of modern-human emergence in Africa."
The fossilized remains of Homo sapiens idaltu were discovered at Herto Bouri near the Middle Awash site of Ethiopia's Afar Triangle in 1997 by Tim White, but were first unveiled in 2003. Herto Bouri is a region of Ethiopia under volcanic layers. According to radioisotope dating, the layers are between 154,000 and 160,000 years old. Three well preserved crania are accounted for, the best preserved being from an adult male (BOU-VP-16/1) having a brain capacity of 1,450 cm3 (88 cu in). The other crania include another partial adult male and a six-year-old child.
Morphology and taxonomy
The Omo fossils differ from those of chronologically later forms of early Homo sapiens, such as Cro-Magnon specimens found in Europe and other parts of the world. Their morphology has features that show resemblances to more primitive African fossils, such as huge and robust skulls, yet have a globular shape of the brain-case and the facial features typical of H. sapiens.
Despite the archaic features, these specimens were argued to represent the direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens sapiens which, according to the "recent African origin (RAO)" or "out of Africa" model, developed shortly after this period (Khoisan mitochondrial divergence dated not later than 110,000 BCE) in Eastern Africa. "The many morphological features shared by the Herto crania and AMHS, to the exclusion of penecontemporaneous Neanderthals, provide additional fossil data excluding Neanderthals from a significant contribution to the ancestry of modern humans."
A 2005 potassium-argon dating of volcanic tuff associated with the Omo remains showed them to date from around 195,000 years ago. At the time of the dating, this made these fossils the earliest known remains of anatomically modern humans, older than the idaltu specimens. Fossils excavated at the Jebel Irhoud site in Morocco have since been dated to an earlier period, around 315,000 years ago.
In 2013, comparative craniometric analysis of the Herto Homo idaltu skull with ancient and recent crania from other parts of Africa found that the specimen was morphologically closest to the Pleistocene Rabat fossil and Early Holocene Kef Oum Touiza skeleton. Herto and the prehistoric fossils were also distinct from crania belonging to modern Afroasiatic-speaking populations from the Horn of Africa and Dynastic Egypt, which instead possessed Middle Eastern affinities. This suggests that the Afroasiatic-speaking groups settled in the area during a later epoch, having possibly arrived from the Middle East.
- White, Tim D.; Asfaw, B.; DeGusta, D.; Gilbert, H.; Richards, G. D.; Suwa, G.; Howell, F. C. (2003), "Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia", Nature, 423 (6491): 742–747, Bibcode:2003Natur.423..742W, doi:10.1038/nature01669, PMID 12802332
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- White, TD; Asfaw, B; DeGusta, D; et al. (June 2003). "Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia". Nature. 423 (6941): 742–7. doi:10.1038/nature01669. PMID 12802332. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
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- McDougall, I.; Brown, F. H.; Fleagle, J. G. (2005), "Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia", Nature, 433 (7027): 733–736, Bibcode:2005Natur.433..733M, doi:10.1038/nature03258, PMID 15716951
- Callaway, Ewan (7 June 2017). "Oldest Homo sapiens fossil claim rewrites our species' history". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2017.22114. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Terrazas Mata, A. Serrano Sánchez, C. and Benavente, M. (2013). "The Late Peopling of Africa According to Craniometric Data. A Comparison of Genetic and Linguistic Models" (PDF). Human Evolution (1–2): 1–12. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Homo sapiens idaltu fossils.|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Homo sapiens idaltu|
- Origins - Exploring the Fossil Record - Homo sapiens idaltu Bradshaw Foundation
- Missing link in human evolution found in Africa (abc.net.au 12 June 2003)
- Oldest Homo Sapiens Fossils Found, Experts Say (National Geographic News)
- Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum) Human origins; new fossil human finds in Ethiopia. 12 June 2003
- BBC report and image of the reconstructed skull discovered at Herto
- Homo sapiens idaltu - Nature Journal Article
- Fossil Hominids - Middle Awash Research Project
- Human Timeline (Interactive) – Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History (August 2016).
- 160,000-year-old fossilized skulls uncovered in Ethiopia are oldest anatomically modern humans, Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley, 11 June 2003.