New Fossil Breaks Assumptions on How Human Race Spread- Oldest Known Human Fossil Outside Africa (Download PDF)

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Discovery of prehistoric jawbone in a cave in Israel and tools suggest that human ancestors left Africa far earlier than previously thought prompting scientists to rethink theories of how the earliest human pioneers came to populate the planet.

Image of how humans spread from africa

Image of How Humans Spread from Africa

Image of how humans spread from africa

Estimated Age of The New Israel Fossil

  • The fossil, dated to nearly 200, 000 years ago, is almost twice as old as any previous Homo sapiens remains discovered outside Africa, where our species is thought to have originated.

  • Until recently, several converging lines of evidence – from fossils, genetics and archaeology – suggested that modern humans first dispersed from Africa into Eurasia about 60, 000 years ago.

Recent Discoveries Negating Previous Assumptions

A series of recent discoveries, including a trove of 100, 000 years-old human teeth found in a cave in China, have clouded straightforward assumption of humans dispersing from Africa into Eurasia:

  • Human fossils in Sumatra from about 70, 000 years ago

  • Archaeological evidence from Northern Australia at 65, 000 years

  • The latest find, at the Misliya cave site in northern Israel added to the conflict.

What Do the Fossils in Misliya Suggest?

  • Modern humans left Africa not 100, 000 years ago, but 200, 000 years ago.

  • There were multiple waves of migration across Europe and Asia.

  • Modern humans in the Middle East were mingling, and possibly mating, with other human species for tens of thousands of years.

  • Sophisticated stone tools and blades discovered nearby suggest the cave’s inhabitants were capable hunters.

  • The hunters used sling projectiles and elegantly carved blades to kill and butcher gazelles, oryx, wild boars, hares, turtles and ostrich.

  • Matting made from plants may have been used to sleep on were also discovered.

  • Radioactive dating places the fossil and tools at between 177, 000 and 194, 000 years old.

  • The possibility that the eastern Mediterranean may have acted as a crossroads for encounters between our own ancestors and the various other human species, such as Neanderthals, who had already reached Europe.

Details of the Found Fossil

  • Well-preserved upper jawbone with eight teeth

  • Appears to have been occupied for lengthy periods.

  • Teeth are larger than average for a modern human, but their shape and the fossil’s facial anatomy are distinctly Homo sapiens.

What is a Fossil?

  • A fossil is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age.

  • Examples include bones, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, hair, petrified wood oil, coal, and DNA remnants.

  • The totality of fossils is known as the fossil record- they can be analysed in a region or across the regions.

Who Are Neanderthals?

  • Neanderthals are also known as Neandertals- archaic humans that became extinct about 40, 000 years ago.

  • They seem to have appeared in Europe and later expanded into southwest, Central and Northern Asia.

  • In the Eurasia, they have left hundreds of stone tool assemblages.

- Published/Last Modified on: March 4, 2018

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