Paleontology: The 160,000-Year-Old Man

New fossils prove that the first Homo sapiens looked like us, walked like us and in some ways acted like us as well

The village of Herto, in the Middle Awash region of Ethiopia, is surrounded by sparse patches of dry, scrubby vegetation, barely enough to sustain the sheep, cattle and goat herds of the seminomadic Afar people who live there. But 160,000 years ago, conditions were far different: a shallow lake sat here, teeming with hippos, crocodiles and catfish. The lush grasslands that surrounded its pebble-strewn shores were filled with lions, zebras and antelopes as well as another creature, which traveled on two legs rather than four. Our distant ancestors had walked the earth for millions of years by this time, and although...

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