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Oldest human fossil outside Africa discovered

01/25/2018
Graphic News

January 25, 2018 -- A human fossil found in Israel substantially shifts the estimated timeframe for when humans first left Africa, suggesting they did so approximately 40,000 to 50,000 years sooner than previously thought.

Before this discovery the earliest modern human fossils found outside of Africa were those estimated to be between 90,000 to 120,000 years old.

Researchers, led by Israel Hershkovitz from Tel Aviv University and Rolf Quam from Binghamton University, State University of New York, describe their discovery in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science.

The fossil, an upper jawbone with several teeth, was found at a site called Misliya Cave in Israel, one of several prehistoric cave sites located on Mount Carmel.

Dating techniques applied to archaeological materials and the fossil itself suggest the jawbone is between 175,000-200,000 years old, pushing back the modern human migration out of Africa by at least 50,000 years.

The archaeological evidence reveals that the inhabitants of Misliya Cave were capable hunters of large animals. They controlled the production of fire and used Early Middle Paleolithic stone tools, similar to those found with the earliest modern humans in Africa.

This discovery is consistent with studies based on ancient DNA that an earlier migration occurred, before 220,000 years ago, of modern humans out of Africa.


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