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You are here News Of Special Interest Landmark skull fossil provides surprising human evolution clues

Landmark skull fossil provides surprising human evolution clues

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Landmark skull fossilScientists have solved a longstanding mystery over the age of a landmark skull found in 1921 in Zambia - the first fossil of an extinct human species discovered in Africa - in research with big implications for deciphering the origin of our own species.

The study published on Wednesday involved the so-called Broken Hill skull, also called the Kabwe skull in recognition of a nearby town, discovered by a Swiss miner working in the Broken Hill lead and zinc mine in what was then Northern Rhodesia. Until now, scientists had been in the dark about how old it was, making it difficult to know its place on the human family tree.

But two sophisticated dating methods have determined the skull to be about 299,000 years old, plus or minus 25,000 years, said geochronologist Rainer Grün of Griffith University in Australia, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature. Some experts had hypothesized it was 500,000 years old.

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