Florisbad

florisbad259 thousand years ago. Compare this skull (admittedly fragmentary), discovered at Florisbad, South Africa (1932), with the Broken Hill skull, from not too far away (Zambia). Florisbad wouldn’t be mistaken for a modern human, but it’s clearly moving in that direction compared to Broken Hill. Reflecting this intermediate state, Florisbad is sometimes assigned to Homo heidelbergensis, sometimes to archaic Homo sapiens, and sometimes to its own species, Homo helmei. The simplest explanation would be that something like Broken Hill evolved into something like Florisbad. Could be. But the story might be more complicated. The time interval between the two is short (40 thousand years), and we’re not even sure about the date for Broken Hill; he might not be as old as we thought. So there might have been multiple species of humans coexisting in Africa at this point, just as there were still other human species outside Africa. There is some genetic evidence that non-sapiens humans didn’t just share Africa with sapiens, but have left traces in some modern Homo sapiens genomes, as we’ll see.

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