Archaeologists discovered in Israel the oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa, suggesting to an earlier human migration from the continent.
Scientists were digging in a cave called Misliya at the base of Mount Carmel on the northern coast of Israel, one of a series of prehistoric caves. According to Mina Weinstein- Evron of the Zinman Institute at the University of Haifa, and who led the team, the cave was home to a number of ancient humans before it collapsed She states that the cave had been occupied for several hundred thousand years.
The archaeological evidence found in the Misliya cave suggested that the humans were hunter-gatherers. They mostly hunted ungulates, such as fallow deer, aurochs, and other small animals, Weinstein- Evron added.
What’s even more noteworthy were the stone tools that they found, which were made using an ancient African technique called Levallois, dating back 300 thousand years ago. The technique is considered to have been used by both humans and Neanderthals.
Weinstein- Evron and her team wanted to know which species of humans lived in the cave, and they eventually found their answer after extensive digging.
“ And among the animal bones and flint tools, we found a jawbone, an upper jawbone of an individual,” she says.
According to the archaeologist, the jawbone resembled that of modern humans. The teeth on the fossil were still intact. Israel Hershkovitz, a paleoanthropologist who was part of the team that studied the fossil, said that the jawbone had pre-molars, molars, canine teeth and the lateral incisor.
After analyzing the fossils, researchers confirmed that it belonged to someone from our species, the Homo sapiens. More so, the fossil was between 177 thousand and 194 thousand years old, making it the oldest known fossil outside Africa.
Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for The Science of Human History, notes how earlier evidence suggested that Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa approximately 120 years ago.
The discovery would suggest that there were a number of earlier migrations out of the African continent, he added.
The findings were reported in the journal, Science.
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