Israel Fossil Discovery Pushes Human Migration From Africa Back By 55000 Years

Israel Fossil Discovery Pushes Human Migration From Africa Back By 55000 Years

The human story keeps changing.

"It provides the clearest evidence yet that our ancestors first migrated out of Africa much earlier than we previously believed", Quam, who is based at Binghamton University, said. Taken together these findings push back the earliest known occurrence of our species outside of Africa by more than 50,000 years, the authors contend.

"All our earlier evidence suggested that Homo sapiens got out of Africa about 120,000 years ago", says Michael Petraglia, at the Max Planck Institute for The Science of Human History.

Most paleoanthropologists now agree on this new start date for our species in Africa (though a small number of researchers argue that humans evolved outside of Africa). In one scenario, humans migrated from modern day Ethiopia into Israel and then on to East Asia.

These large animals, though, disappeared from Israel around 400,000 years ago, Hershkovitz said.

The new scientific dating evidence raises the possibility that modern humans interacted with other, now extinct, species of humans for tens of thousands of years.

The archaeological evidence reveals that the inhabitants of Misliya Cave were capable hunters of large game species, controlled the production of fire and were associated with an Early Middle Paleolithic stone tool kit, similar to that found with the earliest modern humans in Africa.

Comparisons with fossils of African, European and Asian hominids as well as recent human populations have shown that the Misliya fossil is unambiguously derived from a modern man. Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University and his colleagues dated the fossil to between 177,000 and 194,000 years ago using three independent methods.

It was the upper left jaw, with parts of the nasal cavity and cheekbone still intact. That date range was determined by three different dating methods: uranium-thorium, combined uranium series and electron spin resonance. The initial results were so surprising that the team made a decision to corroborate them, ultimately using four independent dating methods on the dentine of the teeth, the tooth enamel, sediment attached to the jaw, and stone found beside the fossil.

A host of studies have sought to determine the genetic makeup and any interactions between modern humans and Neanderthals. The Ethiopian fossils, however, like the even older Jebel Irhoud individuals from Morocco, exhibited some primitive traits.

This is the left hemi-maxilla with teeth found in a cave in Israel, the oldest known modern human fossil found outside Africa.

The features of the jaw and teeth are unmistakably human, the researchers said. Burnt flints - indicating tool use - were also found nearby in the same soil layer. The Levallois stone toolmaking processes are shown in the artifacts. Homo naledi, for example, may have coexisted for a period of time with Homo sapiens in South Africa, fossils suggest. An analysis of ancient DNA in a 124,000-year-old German Neanderthal bone suggests that Neanderthals may have interbred with our own species more than 220,000 years ago. You know where else Levallois tools have turned up? The Jebel Irhoud fossil captures a moment in time of evolution.

On Thursday archeologists announced the finding of a fossilized human jawbone in a collapsed cave off the Northern Coast of Israel that is threatening to rewrite the lineage and narrative of human migration out of Africa. "Rather, there was a flow of hominins coming in and out of Africa for at least the last half a million years".

Related Articles