120,000-year-old fossils in Israel link to human family tree

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bones discovered in an Israeli quarry are from a department of the human evolutionary tree and are 120,000 to 140,000 years previous, scientists reported Thursday.

A staff of anthropologists spent years analyzing the fragments of a cranium, decrease jaw bone and tooth that have been uncovered in Nesher Ramla in 2010, evaluating them to lots of of fossils all over the world from totally different eras.

The researchers decided that the fossils seemingly got here from a hominin group intently associated to Neanderthals and sharing lots of their options, similar to the form of the decrease jaw. The scientists additionally imagine that there are sufficient similarities to link this group to different populations discovered in prior cave excavations in Israel courting to round 400,000 years in the past.

“The teeth have some unique features that enable us to draw a line between these populations,” stated Tel Aviv University dental anthropologist Rachel Sarig, a co-author of the paper revealed Thursday in the journal Science.

This group in all probability inhabited the area from round 400,000 to 100,000 years in the past, stated Tel Aviv University bodily anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz, one other co-author. He stated the stays discovered at Nesher Ramla are seemingly from “some of the last survivors of a once very dominant group in the Middle East.”

Prior research has proven that homo sapiens – trendy people – additionally lived in the area on the similar time.

Many scientists imagine that the arrival of homo sapiens in Europe presaged the decline of Neanderthals there, however the story could have been totally different in the Levant area — the crossroads between North Africa and Eurasia.

The new findings add to analysis displaying that homo sapiens and Neanderthal-like teams overlapped in the Middle East over a big period of time, in all probability tens of hundreds of years.

There have been seemingly cultural and genetic exchanges between the teams, the paper authors counsel. “The Neanderthal story can no longer be told as a European story only. It’s a much more complicated story,” stated Hershkovitz.

Sheela Athreya, a Texas A&M University paleoanthropologist who was not concerned in the examine, stated the brand new analysis “gives us a lot to think about in terms of the history of population groups in this region, and how they may have interacted with populations in other regions, in Europe and North Africa.”

The Nesher Ramla fossils “look like something on a lineage heading toward Neanderthal,” stated Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at Lehman College in New York who was not concerned in the examine. He characterised the findings as “fossils of what appears to be an intermediate variety — this group may be predecessors to Neanderthals in this area.”


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

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