If the volcanic ash is 3.4 million years old, Zeray's fossil, which was lying just above it, must be younger.It was a child from the dawn of human evolution, about 3.3 million years ago.The fossil bones of animals like antelopes, elephants and pigs are abundant.But the fossils of our ancestors are extremely rare.Double it: 10,000 years ago, when plants were domesticated and agriculture begins. He is one of a whole new generation of African scientists trying to unravel the mysteries of human origins.
And NOVA takes viewers "inside the skull" to show how our ancestors' brains had begun to change from those of the apes. It's the story of Becoming Human—our story, right now on NOVA.
He's been at it for eight long years, but the payoff has been amazing.
As the work progressed, Zeray revealed an almost complete skull, and tucked beneath it was nearly her entire spine, along with both shoulder blades. Never before had a child's skeleton been found, so ancient and so complete.
Zeray called the baby Selam, the Ethiopian word for peace.
Then he set off on a quest to unravel her many mysteries. Imagine the entire span of recorded human history, taking us back to the Egyptian pyramids, about 5,000 years.