Scientists discover oldest known modern human fossil outside of Africa

January 25, 2018, Binghamton University
The left hemi-maxilla with teeth. Credit: Rolf Quam

A large international research team, led by Israel Hershkovitz from Tel Aviv University and including Rolf Quam from Binghamton University, State University of New York, has discovered the earliest modern human fossil ever found outside of Africa. The finding suggests that modern humans left the continent at least 50,000 years earlier than previously thought.

"Misliya is an exciting discovery," says Rolf Quam, Binghamton University anthropology professor and a coauthor of the study. "It provides the clearest evidence yet that our ancestors first migrated out of Africa much earlier than we previously believed. It also means that modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges."

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. Several 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.

Researchers analyzed the fossil remains relying on microCT scans and 3D virtual models and compared it with other hominin fossils from Africa, Europe and Asia.

"While all of the anatomical details in the Misliya fossil are fully consistent with modern humans, some features are also found in Neandertals and other human groups," said Quam, associate professor of anthropology at Binghamton. "One of the challenges in this study was identifying features in Misliya that are found only in modern humans. These are the features that provide the clearest signal of what species the Misliya fossil represents."

Misliya cave. Credit: Rolf Quam

The archaeological evidence reveals that the inhabitants of Misliya Cave were capable hunters of large game species, controlled the production of fire and were associated with an Early Middle Paleolithic stone tool kit, similar to that found with the earliest modern humans in Africa.

While older fossils of modern humans have been found in Africa, the timing and routes of modern migration out of Africa are key issues for understanding the evolution of our own species, said the researchers. The region of the Middle East represents a major corridor for hominin migrations during the Pleistocene and has been occupied at different times by both modern humans and Neandertals.

This new discovery opens the door to demographic replacement or genetic admixture with local populations earlier than previously thought, said Quam. Indeed, the evidence from Misliya is consistent with recent suggestions based on ancient DNA for an earlier migration, prior to 220,000 years ago, of modern humans out of Africa. Several recent archaeological and fossil discoveries in Asia are also pushing back the first appearance of in the region and, by implication, the out of Africa.

Composite image of the Misliya Cave site during excavation, along with the maxilla and several representative Early Middle Paleolithic stone tools. Credit: Carla Schaffer, AAAS
Close-up view of the Misliya-1 teeth. Credit: Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University

Explore further: Revising the story of the dispersal of modern humans across Eurasia

More information: DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8369 I. Hershkovitz el al., "The earliest modern humans outside Africa," Science (2018). http://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aap8369

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Thorium Boy
1.5 / 5 (8) Jan 25, 2018
What was around 200,000 years ago wasn't completely human. Which means one more nail in the "life was created in Africa" coffin.
Bart_A
1 / 5 (8) Jan 26, 2018
Maybe this fossil comes from the prophet Elijah, or one on his team. At least they shared the same area. Intriguing!

a_whitefree_europe
1 / 5 (5) Jan 26, 2018
It's already been irrefutably genetically proven that the "Europeans" today have zero genetic relation the people in Europe prior to 35,000 BC so they're definately not going to related to these people. I see no reason why these ancient Africans, or people like them, couldn't have simply wandered a bit more further northeast and been in Europe well before the "Europeans" of today got there after them. Makes one wonder what all this anti-settler resentment is about from the "Europeans" of today.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2018
Maybe this fossil comes from the prophet Elijah, or one on his team. At least they shared the same area. Intriguing!
Hey maybe this fossil is the whale that ate jonah
http://www.fossil...ndex.htm
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2018
It's already been irrefutably genetically proven that the "Europeans" today have zero genetic relation the people in Europe prior to 35,000 BC
Hey there stinking bigot

"This particular model used an Out of Africa migration 100,000 years ago, which separated Africans from non-Africans, followed by a single admixture event 30,000 years ago leading to the formulation of the European population. The admixture event consisted of a source population that was 35% African and 65% East Asian."

-Go peddle your filthy lies somewhere else.
a_whitefree_europe
1 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2018
Hmm, wherever you got that from must be pretty old because it's all wrong. From 2015:

"Whereas there is no evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe contributing to the genetic composition of present-day Europeans, all individuals between ~37,000 and ~14,000 years ago descended from a single founder population which forms part of the ancestry of present-day Europeans..."

In other words they retrieved DNA from ancient European remains from before 37,000 years ago and found them to have zero relation to the "Europeans" of today. 12,000 BC is when these later "Europeans" started losing the migration "war" to the Middle East.

https://www.natur...ure17993
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2018
@idiot religious fanatical illiterate crackpot bart
Maybe this fossil comes from the prophet Elijah, or one on his team
1- per your own bible: Elijah didn't die on earth. He ascended directly to heaven (2Kings 2:11)
don't you ever f*cking read your own bible?

2- fairy tales don't enter into science. if we accept your claim, we also have to accept bigfoot, unicorns and the electric universe claims, so it could be an electric-bigfoot-unicorn too, if you want to speculate using delusion

3- you do realise that the OT is the foundation of Judaism and Islam, right?

4- those fossils are older than you claim the earth to be making you not only a liar but also ignorant of reality and your own tome

LMFAO
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (4) Jan 26, 2018
A big problem with all the claims and controversies about 'origins' and 'wanderings' is the scarcity of coherently organized, multiply verified evidence.

That what physical data available? Has generally been accumulated over the last couple of centuries.

By a succession of individuals and teams. Often with personal agendas or greedy intent or ideological motivations. And a number of them were just looters without any training in scientific methodology.

From scattered, often isolated sites. All with a disappointing variety of site degradation from human land usage, flash-floods, biological activity and other damaging occurrences.

To top it all off with a series of bloated egotists claiming that they alone have the 'Truth' and only 'Truth' about the discoveries they are publicly bombasting.

And next week, there will be a new claim that contradicts what ever we learned last week.

Reality is wonderfully chaotic.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2018

Reality is wonderfully chaotic.


It can be, but what we know is far less chaotic than your conspiracy-fest re science.

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