Ancient teeth found in Israeli cave raise questions about humans' origin

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Washington, Feb 10 (ANI): A Binghamton University anthropologist has said that eight small teeth found in a cave near Rosh Haain, central Israel, are raising big questions about the earliest existence of humans and where we may have originated.

Rolf Quam and his colleagues have been examining the dental discovery as a part of a team of international researchers led by Israel Hershovitz of Tel Aviv University.

Excavated at Qesem cave, a pre-historic site that was uncovered in 2000, the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man, Homo sapiens, which have been found at other sites is Israel, such as Oafzeh and Skhul - but they're a lot older than any previously discovered remains.

"The Qesem teeth come from a time period between 200,000 - 400,000 years ago when human remains from the Middle East are very scarce," Quam said.

"We have numerous remains of Neandertals and Homo sapiens from more recent times, that is around 60,00 - 150,000 years ago, but fossils from earlier time periods are rare.

"So these teeth are providing us with some new information about who the earlier occupants of this region were as well as their potential evolutionary relationships with the later fossils from this same region," he said.

If the remains from Qesem can be linked directly to the Homo sapiens species, it could mean that modern man either originated in what is now Israel or may have migrated from Africa far earlier that is presently accepted.

But according to Quam, the verdict is still out as to what species is represented by these eight teeth, which poses somewhat of a challenge for any kind of positive identification.

The findings were recently published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. (ANI)

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