Researchers said on Thursday that bones belonging to a previously unknown “new type of early human” were discovered in Israel, claiming to have provided new clues to human evolution.
Excavations in the quarry of a cement factory near the central city of Ramla found prehistoric remains that could not match any known Homo species.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem called this “extraordinary discovery” a “Nesher Ramla Homo type” site in a study published in the journal Science.
These fossils date back to 140,000 to 120,000 years ago, and the team believes that the Nesher Ramla type may overlap with Homo sapiens of modern humans.
Chief archaeologist Yossi Zaidner said: “We never thought that at this late in human history, the ancient Homo sapiens roamed the area together with Homo sapiens.”
The researchers said in a statement: “The human form of Nesher Ramla shares common characteristics with Neanderthals…and ancient humans.”
“At the same time, this type of person is very different from modern people-showing a completely different skull structure, without a jaw and very large teeth.”
In addition to human remains, this excavation also found a large number of animal bones and stone tools.
“Archaeological discoveries related to human fossils indicate that’Nesher Ramla Homo’ has advanced stone tool production technology and is likely to interact with local Homo sapiens,” Zaidner said.
Researchers believe that some of the fossils previously discovered in Israel dating back 400,000 years may belong to the same prehistoric human type.
Rachel Sarig, a dentist and anthropologist at Tel Aviv University, said that researchers had previously tried to attribute older bones to known human groups, such as Homo sapiens or Neanderthals.
“But now we say: No. This is a group in itself, with distinct characteristics and characteristics,” she said.
Israeli researchers have put forward a still controversial claim that the discovery of a new, ancient human group in the Middle East challenges the popular belief that Neanderthals originated in Europe.
“Before these new discoveries, most researchers considered Neanderthals to be a’European story’, in which a small group of Neanderthals was forced to migrate south to escape the spreading glacier,” Israel He of Tel Aviv University Shkowitz said,
“Our research shows that the famous Neanderthals in Western Europe are just the remnants of a large population living in the Levant-not the other way around.”
Sarig said that small groups of Nesher Ramla type are likely to migrate to Europe, and later evolve into Neanderthals and Asia, and develop into groups with similar characteristics.
The researchers said this may also explain how some Homo sapiens genes were found in the Neanderthal population, who may have lived in Europe long before the arrival of the Neanderthals.
Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London said that the Israeli findings are important, but he questioned the researchers’ claims about connections with Neanderthals.
“I think it is too much to associate some older Israeli fossils with Neanderthals at the moment,” Stringer told the BBC.
Geneticists who study the DNA of European Neanderthals have previously suggested that there is a Neanderthal-like population, called the “missing population” or “X population”, which may have been related to Homo sapiens more than 200,000 years ago. Hybridization.
In this paper, Israeli researchers believe that the Nesher Ramla Homo type may be the missing link.
Sariger said that this discovery shows that “as a crossroad between Africa, Europe and Asia, the land of Israel is like a melting pot where different populations are mixed with each other and then spread to the entire old world.
She said: “The discovery of the Nesher Ramla site has written a new and fascinating chapter in human history.”