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'World's oldest child' holds key to evolutionary period

Washington , Fri, 17 Jun 2011 ANI

Washington, June 17 (ANI): A skeleton of a child from 108,000 years ago promises to open a window into a pivotal time in human evolution.


A team led by Harold Dibble, a curator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, unearthed the child's skull and upper body in Morocco last year.


By analyzing teeth, Dibble's team estimated the child was 6- to 8 years old. Dibble named the remains "Bouchra," Arabic for "good news". While the name is feminine, Dibble said it more likely is a boy.


In the period in which archaeologists say the child lived, modern Homo sapiens had emerged in Africa and begun to spread to the Middle East while Neanderthals populated parts of Eurasia.


"This will fit into the global debate on how and where and when modern humans arose," Dibble told Philadelphia Inquirer.


Another archaeologist, Curtis Marean of Arizona State University, said Bouchra "joins a very small sample of hominid remains in Africa from that period. We don't know a lot about human populations at that time."


The young age of the child is also of scientific interest, he said. "As far as I know, this is the first juvenile from that crucial time period." (ANI)


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