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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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In 1947, shepherds discovered a series of sea scrolls stored in jars in caves in Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea. Those scrolls, named the Dead Sea Scrolls, provide insight into early Judaism and their discovery launched years of study. Scientists have long believed there could be more scrolls in existence somewhere and they may have just gotten a step closer to finding them.

A team of researchers recently discovered a cave in Israel that they believe once held Dead Sea Scrolls. Unfortunately, these researchers weren’t the first to find the cave. There was evidence that someone else had been there, as well as hints that scrolls may have been hidden there, including broken jars and lids. A leather scrap that could have bound the scrolls, a cloth they could have been wrapped in, and other hints that scrolls likely resided there confirmed the team’s suspicions. There was also a tunnel at the rear of the cave.

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