Research Highlights: New Prehistoric Human Discovered in Israel and Could Be The “Missing Link” in Human Evolution

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Mandible and parietal bone of Nesher Ramla Homo. Credit: Tel Aviv University

New Prehistoric Human Discovered in Israel and Could Be The “Missing Link” in Human Evolution

June 25, 2021

  • Researchers discovered fossilized skull remains which belong to a previously unknown hominin from the archaic period.
  • Nesher Ramla Homo was found at a site in Israel.
  • The skull has both Neanderthal and archaic human features.
  • The newly discovered skull in the Eastern Mediterranean may rattle some of the assumptions about the human family tree and may illuminate the origins of Neanderthals.
  • Neanderthals have been speculated to originate and thrive in Europe long before the arrival of modern humans.
  • However, genetic evidence argued that an unknown non-European group exists and may have played a role in the emergence of Neanderthals.
  • Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem suggest that the newly discovered Nesher Ramla Homo could be the missing link.
  • The new specimen includes part of its cranium, a portion of its jaws, and some teeth.
  • In-depth analysis revealed that the skull is from an unknown member of the Homo genus with shared features from Neanderthals and archaic Homo.
  • Researchers argued that this new member of Homo lived in Eastern Mediterranean between 400,000 to 120,000 years ago.
  • Dr. Yossi Zaidner of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University said that Nesher Ramla Homo possessed stone-tool production technologies and probably interacted with modern humans.
  • Scientists believe that Nesher Ramla Homo may be the ancestors of other Homo species with some members of the group moving to Europe where they evolved into Neanderthals.
  • Additionally, it is possible that previously discovered unusual archaic human fossils in Israel may also belong to this newly discovered Homo genus member.
  • Before this new discovery, researchers thought the Neanderthals to be a “European story” in which a small group of Neanderthals migrated southwards to stay away from spreading glaciers, with some ending up in Israel about 70,000 years ago.
  • The Nesher Ramla skull puts doubt on the theory of the “European story” suggesting that the ancestors of European Neanderthals lived in the Eastern Mediterranean as early as 400,000 years ago, repeatedly moving to Europe and Asia.
  • The new findings strongly suggest that the popular Neanderthals of Western Europe are the only remnants of a much bigger population that lived in the Eastern Mediterranean and not the other way around.

Source:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6549/1429

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6549/1424

https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/fossil-of-a-new-type-of-archaic-human-discovered-in-israel/

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