The first modern humans may have emerged up to 350,000 years ago—170,000 years earlier than previously thought. Analysis of ancient DNA has allowed scientists to trace back the ancestry of people from South Africa to determine when our ancestors split from other hominin species. Their findings consistently point to an early date of divergence, between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago.
…Their dating estimates also fit with the fossil record. At least two or three other Homo species are known to have lived in southern Africa during this time. Furthermore, these dates with recent fossil evidence uncovered in Morocco. Scientists found remains from five Homo sapiens individuals that date back to 300,000 years, raising major questions about where the “cradle of humanity” really was.
Study author Carina Schlebusch, also from Uppsala University, said: “Both paleo-anthropological and genetic evidence increasingly points to multi-regional origins of anatomically modern humans in Africa, i.e. Homo sapiens did not originate in one place in Africa, but might have evolved from older forms in several places on the continent with gene flow between groups from different places.”