Smiley faces have been a part of society long before emojis made them part of everyday communication. However, a new discovery in Turkey reveals that the smiley face may have been in use centuries before previously thought.

The discovery was made in Gaziantep at the border between Turkey and Syria. A team of Turkish and Italian archeologists were exploring in the area and had already unearthed a variety of ancient vases and pots during their expedition. But they highlighted a pitcher that was once used for a sweet drink called sherbet, with the pitcher dating back to 1,700 B.C. The pitcher had the faded but easily detectible outline of two eyes and a smile, familiar to modern-day man as a smiley face. Experts can only speculate about the reason for the smiley face, but they’re calling it the earliest-known smiley emoji.

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The news spread quickly, with the media telling the world that skull fragments found in Morocco were identified as being approximately 300,000 years old. The fragments—belonging to three adults, a child, and an adolescent—meant that homo sapiens may have roamed the Earth 100,000 years earlier than previously thought, igniting excitement among archaeology fans across the globe.

But scientists say evolution is far more complicated. Evolutionary biologist Jean-Jacques Hublin and his team dubbed the skulls “early Homo sapiens,” but others in the field are more skeptical. Some have expressed disdain for the way Hublin and his team were so quick to say this is proof that the “earliest” Homo sapiens was around 300,000 years ago. Evolution is gradual, the experts point out, with no definite beginning or ending.

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Scientists are fascinated by a 2013 find in South Africa. Discovered among a collection of 1,500 human fossils gathered in the area was Homo naledi, a primitive human estimated to have lived between 236,000 and 335,000 years ago. This puts this species in South Africa not long before Homo sapiens made its first appearance.

Although Homo naledi appears to have had a small brain, it is otherwise human in appearance, including long legs. From their research, scientists were able to determine that Homo naledi likely was a toolmaker, as well as being a good climber. They also found that this particular species likely buried its dead, something that was previously associated with a more modern development. The combination of Homo sapiens-like traits has some experts wondering if man evolved more gradually than previously assumed. Some researchers believe there was a species called Homo helmei that transitioned to the earliest Homo sapiens.

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