Out of Africa – Much Earlier Than Expected
Human Jawbone Fossil Rewrites our History
The discovery of a fossilised upper jawbone, complete with teeth, has rewritten the history of our own species and supports the theory as proposed by genetic studies that H. sapiens migrated out of Africa much earlier than previously thought. Most palaeoanthropologists contend that our species Homo sapiens originated in Africa and then at some point in the distant past migrated out of Africa spreading into the Middle East, Asia and Europe before colonising the rest of the world. Human fossils found outside Africa have been dated to 120,000 to 90,000 years ago (Tarantian faunal stage of the Late Pleistocene), the discovery of a human jawbone fossil at Misliya Cave on the western slopes of Mount Carmel, Israel, demonstrates that modern humans were already present in northern Israel at least 55,000 years earlier.
The Fossil Jawbone that Reinforces the Idea that Modern Humans Migrated Out of Africa Much Earlier
Picture Credit: Israel Hershkovitz Tel Aviv University
The international team of scientists, including Israel Hershkovitz (Tel Aviv University) and Rolf Quam from the Department of Anthropology at Binghamton University, examined the sediments in the cave associated with the human jawbone fossil find. There has been a research project associated with the Misliya Cave site for several years. This new research builds upon previous studies and it supports the idea that the people at this location were making and using a range of sophisticated stone tools reminiscent of the tools associated with the earliest modern humans in Africa (Levallois technology). The sediments reveal a series of well-defined hearths as well as numerous animal remains and stone tools. An analysis of the human remains, dating the sediments and the fossil itself, suggests an approximate age range of between 177,000 and 194,000 years old, making this jawbone the oldest member of the Homo sapiens species to have been found outside of Africa.
The research team conclude, that the fossil, known as the “Misliya maxilla” along with the abundant stone tools, indicates that the emergence of this technology is linked to the appearance of our species in this region of the Middle East.
For an article that summarises research from 2016 that questions the relatively late migration of modern humans out of Africa: Out of Africa Earlier than Thought?
Another 2016 article that looks at the evidence in support of a theory that suggests modern humans evolved independently in Asia: Did Humans Evolve Independently in Asia?