homo sapiens

Homo sapiens idaltu

Homo sapiens idaltu is an extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens that lived almost 160,000 years ago in Pleistocene Africa. Idaltu is the Afar word for "elder, first born". The fossilized remains of H. s. idaltu were discovered at Herto Bouri in 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. By using radioisotope dating, the layers date 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 1450 cm3. The other crania include another partial adult male and a six year old child.

These fossils differ from those of chronologically later forms of early H. sapiens such as Cro-Magnon found in Europe and other parts of the world in that their morphology has many archaic features not typical of H. sapiens (although modern human skulls do differ across the globe). Despite the archaic features, these specimens are postulated to represent the direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens sapiens which, according to the recent "Out of Africa" theory, developed shortly after this period (Khoisan mitochondrial divergence dated not later than 110,000 B.P.) in Eastern Africa, and as such, to be the oldest representative of the H. sapiens species found so far.

See also


  • White, Tim D., Asfaw, B., DeGusta, D., Gilbert, H., Richards, G.D., Suwa, G. and Howell, F.C. (2003). "Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia". Nature 423 (6491): 742–747.

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