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Oldest Human Fossil Outside Africa Discovered

Oldest Human Fossil Outside Africa Discovered

The partial jawbone and teeth from Misliya Cave in Israel are about as old as human fossils from Herto and Omo Kibish, both in Ethiopia, but considerably younger than the fossils described in 2017 from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco.

The implications go back even further for co-author and physical anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University in Israel, who says the find suggests our ancestors arose far earlier than thought. The shape of the jaw and the nasal floor look distinctly human, and so do the shape and arrangement of the teeth.

They may have moved out of Africa when the climate was more humid 244,000 to 190,000 years ago, but gone extinct as the climate got arid again, says paleoanthropologist Marta Mirazon Lahr of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who was not involved with the new find.

The fossilized jaw and teeth were found in Misliya Cave on Mt Carmel in Israel.Credit: Mina Weinstein-Evron, Haifa Univ. That means that Misliya-1's people were probably not directly related to the people who later lived in the Qafzeh and Es-Skhul caves.

Prof Quam added: 'While all of the anatomical details in the Misliya fossil are fully consistent with modern humans, some features are also found in Neandertals and other human groups.

"Now with the new discovery, all the pieces fall into place - an exodus possibly as early as 250,000 years ago, which is the date of the tools found in the Misliya Cave", he stated further.

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According to press release from the university Professor Hershkovitz led a team of Israeli and global anthropologists who conducted a study based on the finding, which will be published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. The discovery of the tools along with the fossil in this location is the earliest known association between the two in the region. It also fits in with recent discoveries of remains and genetic studies that also indicate an earlier departure from Africa.

Scientists are now sure that the modern men, archaic humans, and others were living together at the same time.

Archaeologists at the site have found evidence that suggests these early humans were hunter-gatherer communities that were capable of building fire & working with small tools similar to those found in Africa during the same time period. Beyond helping to reshape the known timeline of human evolution, the discovery also reinforces the notion that there was a much more extensive overlap between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals than had previously been believed. In other words, it proves our previous estimates of when the first humans left Africa are at least 50,000 years off. But the evidence from recent years puts this singular "Out of Africa" theory into question.

It's worth remembering that our ancestors - the Homo sapiens - weren't the only species of human wandering the globe at this time.

The upper jaw fossil was discovered in 2002 during an ongoing archaeological excavation at a site called Misliya, found on Mount Carmel in northern Israel. Misliya-1's presence brings the fossil evidence into line with genetic studies, which suggest that modern humans first interbred with Neanderthals around 200,000 years ago somewhere outside of Africa. Scientists once believed that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa 200,000 years ago and started migrating from the continent about 80,000 years afterward in the Late Pleistocene era.

The remains are unquestionably H. sapiens, says team member María Martinón-Torres, a palaeoanthropologist at the National Research Centre on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain.

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