195,000 years ago, Omo-1 was a hunter prowling the east African savanna. He died while still in his twenties, but among anthropologists he has VIP status. He is the oldest member of our species, Homo sapiens, found anywhere in the world.
His bones were discovered in 1967 by an international expedition to Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. But they were only properly dated in 2005, by measuring the decay of argon in the sediment. At 195,000 years old, they are at least 30,000 years older than any other remains of a Homo sapiens.
He looked like a modern human. His skull had a high forehead, a rounded brain case and reduced brow ridges, and his body proportions were those of a modern-day African - he stood about 5’9” tall and weighed 160 pounds.
He would also have been as smart as a modern hunter. Stone blades discovered nearby suggest people at Omo were making a variety of tools – some large for maximum impact, others small enough for precision cutting. They were capable of hunting giant hog and antelope; sometimes they’d even take down a hippopotamus.
If we met Omo-1 today, we’d recognize him as one of us. Truly, he was our ancestor.