Why Ethiopia’s place as ‘cradle of mankind’ remains undisputed Featured

13 Jul 2017

Ethiopia remains the undisputed origin of mankind as paleontologists raise doubts on the credibility of the techniques used to dating the fossil discovery in Morocco reported by the Nature Journal as the oldest Homosapiens yet unearthed.

The experts challenge the idea that the fossil uncovered in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, dates back to 300,000 years, almost 100,000 years older than previously discovered fossils of Homosapiens, due to thermoluminescence dating technique applied by the scientists.

Thermoluminescence is less accurate and less reliable unlike the commonly used carbon dating technique, says Dr. Yonas Beyene who is a paleontologist and researcher.

New discoveries should go through the proper and credible dating method. Those uncovered in North Africa face revision of dates unlike fossils found along the East African valleys. “It is premature to conclude that the Morocco's discovery is similar to those unearthed in the eastern part of the Continent, particularly Ethiopia. The technique relatively lacks credibility and accuracy than the techniques used to date East African discoveries,” says Dr. Yonas.

Unless other dating techniques were put in place, the discovery would be nothing less than mere hypothesis, says Researchers and physical anthropologist Dr. Birhane Asefa.

“Science is not about competition. It is about piecing data together and drawing conclusion” says Dr. Birhane. “The Morocco's fossil was first discovered in 1960's, there is nothing new about it but what is new in the journal's information is its date. Nevertheless, the date is disputed for it has used the less credible dating technique which is the last alternative from the available.”

“It requires other studies and dating techniques to date the discovery. Even if the report happens to be true, it would never challenge or discredit Ethiopia's reputation as the cradle of human species.” he adds.

“There is no way the new information would rewrite history to disclaim Ethiopia’s place as the origin of mankind. It does not and would not have any impact on Ethiopia's long held fame as being the centre of mankind.” states, Dr. Birhane

Because of its credible and continuous discoveries, Ethiopia's status of being the origin of mankind could not be challenged. In fact countries should not get into competition. Every scientific discovery adds value to the studies of evolution, adds Dr. Birhane.

Everything that is published does not necessary implies that it is accurate and credible. Ethiopia is still unchallenged in being the origin of mankind because of its nature of completeness and uninterrupted discoveries, corroborated Dr. Yonas. However, he says the study of human evolution covers various geographical areas, and it is important that fossils are discovered. It is when discoveries are pieced together that give clue to the scientists in the field.

There is nothing quite like Ethiopia when it comes to providing complete and continuous proof of evolutionary process with fossil discoveries. The country still keeps its unique place for being home to the oldest fossils. That is why there have been attempts to open human origin museum in the country, says Getu Asefa UNESCO Cultural Programme Officer.

Ethiopia is home to the oldest remains on human beings ranging from Lucy to the recently discovered Selam. Particularly, the lower Awash and Omo valleys are the epicenter of the cradle of mankind. The UNESCO registered paleontological sites are also thought to have undiscovered remnants of beings.

“It is an established fact that Ethiopia is the origin mankind proven not by only archaeologists but also anthropologists. There has not been credible fact whether other countries have found oldest fossils as Ethiopia did,” explains Minister of Culture and Tourism Dr. Hirut Woldemariam

It is not only about what have been found, but also about promoting the heritages and protecting the places where the remains were uncovered. In fact, there must adequate protection of paleontological sites, adds Dr, Hirut

“Ethiopia's paleontological sites tell us about our ancestors, the ecology of the past, and how human beings have changed so much over the years” Getu asserts. “Human remains extracted from the sites ranging from Lucy to the recently- discovered Selam surely gives one a peek to the origin and development of mankind.”

However, despite its heritages, doubts remain whether the country has done enough to promote and protect these sites. Their spectacular landscapes can also attract tourists in addition to their potential for archaeological studies and pale tourism, hence adequate preservation the sites are critical, Getu concludes.

 

BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT

 

 

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