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.”
Translation: The find and many successors will doom countless theories about early human groups (“species”).
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.
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 modern humans in the region and, by implication, the migration out of Africa. Paper. (paywall) – Israel Hershkovitz, Gerhard W. Weber, Rolf Quam, Mathieu Duval, Rainer Grün, Leslie Kinsley, Avner Ayalon, Miryam Bar-Matthews, Helene Valladas, Norbert Mercier, Juan Luis Arsuaga, María Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez de Castro, Cinzia Fornai, Laura Martín-Francés, Rachel Sarig, Hila May, Viktoria A. Krenn, Viviane Slon, Laura Rodríguez, Rebeca García, Carlos Lorenzo, Jose Miguel Carretero, Amos Frumkin, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Daniella E. Bar-Yosef Mayer, Yaming Cui, Xinzhi Wu, Natan Peled, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Lior Weissbrod, Reuven Yeshurun, Alexander Tsatskin, Yossi Zaidner, Mina Weinstein-Evron. The earliest modern humans outside Africa. Science, 26 Jan 2018 456-459 DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8369 More.
Replacing fashionable theories with fact is nice, and it has a name: history
See also: Neanderthals have changed a lot in the last few decades. Maybe they didn’t even necessarily look the way we think.
Rewriting human origins is one of RealClearScience’s (Ultimate) Top Ten stories for 2017