Previously the oldest known human hair belonged to a 9,000-year-old mummy disinterred from an ancient Chilean cemetery. However a recent discovery pushes the record back some 200,000 years.
According to Live Science a team of researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand, who were excavating in Gladysvale Cave, near Johannesburg, South Africa, discovered an ancient brown-hyena latrine. The coprolites appeared to contain uncannily hair-like structures. Palaeontologist Lucinda Backwell took several coprolites back to the lab for examination. It was found that human hairs best matched these hairs.
The cave's limestone layers showed that the dung had been deposited sometime between 257,000 and 195,000 years ago. During that period, both early Homo sapiens and a relation, H. heidelbergensis, roamed the South African landscape.
How did human hair end up in hyena dung? One shudders to think but Lucinda Backwell thinks it most likely that a brown hyena scavenged an ancestral human's remains rather than taking a lump out of a live one.
Fascinating stuff... well I find it fascinating anyway!