New fossil findings show that modern man has existed longer than once posited. The new findings by members of a Tel Aviv University research team could reverse theories of the origin of humans.
Excavated in a cave in central Israel, teeth were found from a man who lived some 400,000 years ago. They resemble the teeth of other modern men – Homo Sapiens.
“It’s very exciting to come to this conclusion,” said archaeologist Avi Gopher. The findings were scanned by X-ray and CAT scans, though further research will be required to concretize the hypotheses. If the hypothesis is concretized, he said, “Tthis changes the whole picture of evolution.”
The commonly known theory is that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa and migrated off the continent. If the remains found in Israel are definitively linked to modern human’s ancestors, said Gopher, it could mean that modern man actually originated in what is now Israel.
Sir Paul Mellars, a prehistory scholar at England’s Cambridge University, said the study is legitimate, and the find is “important”.
According to the accepted scientific theories today, modern humans and Neanderthals stemmed from a common ancestor who lived in Africa some 700,000 years ago. A single group of descendants migrated to Europe and developed into Neanderthals, before going extinct; while, another group stayed in Africa and evolved into Homo Sapiens — modern humans.
According to Mellars, however, teeth are often unreliable indicators of origin, and analysis of skull remains would more definitively identify the species found in the Israeli cave.
Gopher, though, says he is confident his team will find skulls and bones in the cave if they keep on looking.
The prehistoric Qesem cave was first found in 2000. Excavations began in 2004.