New Type Of Human Discovered After Recovery Of 120,000-Year-Old Skull
Archaeologists in Israel have identified a new type of ancient human following the discovery of a partial skull and jaw bone.
The remains were initially uncovered in 2010 in what used to be a sinkhole near the city of Ramla in Israel, and after years of analysis they are believed to represent one of the ‘last survivors’ of the human group that lived alongside our species more than 100,000 years ago.
In the wake of the discovery, which was announced on Thursday, June 24, researchers have named the lineage the ‘Nesher Ramla Homo type’.
The bones have been dated at between 140,000 and 120,000 years old, with the early humans found to have had very large teeth and no chin.
During studies of the findings researchers noticed they bore resemblance to ancient ‘pre-Neanderthal’ groups in Europe, suggesting they could have also been ancestors of the Neanderthals; a notion which challenges what we understand about the story of human evolution and our beliefs about how the Neanderthals emerged.
Dr Hila May, from Tel Aviv University, told BBC News:
It all started in Israel. We suggest that a local group was the source population. During interglacial periods, waves of humans, the Nesher Ramla people, migrated from the Middle East to Europe.
The European Neanderthal actually began here in the Levant and migrated to Europe, while interbreeding with other groups of humans.
Explaining the significance of the discovery, Dr Rachel Sarig, from Tel Aviv University, explained: ‘This is the first time we could connect the dots between different specimens found in the Levant.’
There are several human fossils from the caves of Qesem, Zuttiyeh and Tabun that date back to that time that we could not attribute to any specific known group of humans. But comparing their shapes to those of the newly uncovered specimen from Nesher Ramla, justify their inclusion within the [new human] group.
Excavators uncovered the bones about eight metres deep alongside stone tools and the bones of horses and deer, according to Reuters. The latter findings suggest the area in which the remains were found was once frequented by prehistoric humans as they hunted for animals.
Israel Hershkovitz, a physical anthropologist at Tel Aviv University and a co-author of the study about the findings, described the discovery of the new species as being ‘of great scientific importance’.
‘It enables us to make new sense of previously found human fossils, add another piece to the puzzle of human evolution, and understand the migrations of humans in the old world,’ he explained.
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