Rewriting human history: Fossils discovered in Israel suggest earlier departure from Africa


A small bit of human jawbone found in Israel has been dated to between 177,000 and 194,000 years ago. Before this discovery, most evidence suggested Homo sapiens hadn’t left the African continent until 122,000 years ago.

It’s a big deal. The research was published [January 25] in Science, and if it holds true, then humanity’s story just got a lot more complex. (Our species is believed to have arisen around 315,000 years ago from some common ancestor with the Neanderthal in Africa.)

This skull fragment is older than any previously found outside of Africa, and that’s not all. It also has more modern features than those associated with East African sapiens fossils. This might place our species something closer to 500,000 years old.

As fossil evidence has accumulated, a new picture of human history has been painted: we shared the Earth with at least four different human relatives, including the Neanderthals, the Denisovans (an Asian relative of the Neanderthals), Homo erectus, and the diminutive and regionally isolated Homo floresiensis. DNA evidence shows interbreeding with the Neanderthals and the Denisovans, and the Denisovans likely mated with an ancient human ancestor—possibly Homo erectus, though its DNA has never been sequenced.

But “anatomically modern” people may have been a result of interbreeding with several human cousin species known to be living alongside modern humans.

Read full, original post: Major Human Evolution Discovery Suggests Homo Sapiens Left Africa Sooner Than We Thought

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