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Oldest Human Hairs Found in Hyena Dung

The oldest human hairs ever found have been discovered embedded in ancient hyena coprolites.

Lucinda Backwell, a paleontologist in the group, took a sediment block containing several coprolites back to the lab for a closer look. She and a colleague carefully removed forty of the “hairs apparent” from one of the coprolites and subjected half to scanning-electron microscopy. Sure enough, fossilized hairs they were, and five showed remarkably preserved surface scales.

Comparing the scales to those of a variety of animals – an admittedly tricky undertaking – Backwell’s team concluded that human hairs were the best match.

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