A modern child -- but born 160,000 years ago

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A child of eight who died 160,000 years ago in Morocco is today revealed to be the oldest human to grow up and develop in a modern way.

Genetic evidence suggests that between 200,000 and 160,000 years ago modern humans -- Homo sapiens -- evolved in east Africa and then spread over the world, displacing all other humans, such as the Neanderthals.

Today, Dr Tanya Smith tells of what she says are the remains of the oldest human, from a cave in Jebel Irhoud, 60 miles west of Marrakech, that had a long childhood...

What was unknown, Dr Smith told the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, was when, and in which group, the modern human condition of a long childhood evolved.

This is a crucial question because prolonged childhood is unique to humans. It is related to our large brains, which need time to grow, and the time required for learning.

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