Nesher Ramla Homo: Scientists find a new early human
Jerusalem, June 25: Shedding new light on human evolution, scientists have discovered bones belonging to a "new type of early human" at a site used by a cement plant in central Israel.
A team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem uncovered prehistoric remains that could not be matched to any known species from the Homo genus, which includes modern humans (Homo sapiens).
Dating to between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago, the Nesher Ramla humans shares features with both Neanderthals (especially the teeth and jaws) and archaic Homo (specifically the skull). The Nesher Ramla fossils represent a unique Middle Pleistocene population, now identified for the first time.
This type of Homo is very unlike modern humans -- displaying a completely different skull structure, no chin, and very large teeth.
"The archaeological finds associated with human fossils show that 'Nesher Ramla Homo' possessed advanced stone-tool production technologies and most likely interacted with the local Homo sapiens," archaeologist Zaidner said.
"We had never imagined that alongside Homo sapiens, archaic Homo roamed the area so late in human history".
Researchers believe that the findings from Nesher Ramla offer a solution to a great mystery in the evolution of Homo that Neanderthals first emerged in Europe before migrating south.
"Our findings imply that the famous Neanderthals of Western Europe are only the remnants of a much larger population that lived here in the Levant -- and not the other way around," anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University said.