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Thread: Anient teeth found in Israeli cave?

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    Default Anient teeth found in Israeli cave?

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


    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.

    bron: dailynews brief

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    Default School found in prehistoric cave in Israel

    'School of Rock' Found in Prehistoric Cave in Israel


    Archaeologists may have uncovered the oldest known prehistoric school, where it seems young hominins were taught how to make flint tools, butcher animals, and master other skills necessary to survive in the Stone Age about 400,000 years ago. The discovery is so remarkable that the scientists are wondering whether it means Homo sapiens itself evolved much earlier than is currently thought.

    The notion that what they found was evidence of an early teaching system is based on analysis of hundreds of flint stones and fragments found in Qesem Cave, in central Israel, a spot that hominins called home from 400,000 to 200,000 years ago.

    The discovery may attest that our ancestors developed complex cultural patterns, such as language and knowledge transmission, much earlier than believed. That in turn adds to mounting evidence from around the world that has already pushed back the clock on the evolution of modern humans by at least 100,000 years, and challenged the idea that Homo sapiens developed in Africa.

    “I wouldn’t talk about a school in the modern sense, but we can see a specific tradition, a specific way of doing things in the cave, which was passed on from generation to generation,” says Ella Assaf, an archaeologist and PhD student at Tel Aviv University who is leading the study. “There was definitely a mechanism of knowledge transmission.”


    Limb bones of animals found in Qesem Cave,
    where primitive men of some type lived, and
    made and used flint tools - Courtesy of Ruth
    Blasco and Jordi Rosell
    Assaf, who has been digging at Qesem since 2010, analyzed hundreds of flint items looking for signs of different skill levels by the prehistoric knappers.

    “Knapping is complex. It requires many different motor and cognitive skills, as well as technical and practical knowledge,” she told Haaretz. “The idea was to see if we can identify the different stages in this learning process."

    Among the most telling finds are flint cores that show signs of having been used by multiple people, some of whom were clearly highly skilled, while others were just beginners, Assaf explains.

    The discovery of what seems to be a school for advanced flint tool-making raises the key question of how this prehistoric show-and-tell took place. Did the hominins who lived so long ago already have a language with which to teach their children? Can such complex behavior be learned just through imitation?

    When our ancestors began to talk is controvesial. Some researchers suggest that, at least physiologically, they may have already been speaking as early as 1.75 million years ago, as they began to create more complex and standardized tools, which required some kind of knowledge sharing.

    We don't know who lived at Qesem itself. Only a handful of teeth have been recovered, not enough to conclusively determine what kind of hominin inhabited the cave. Even so, experts have pronounced the teeth to be much more similar to those of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens than to those of Homo erectus, the first hominin known to have left Africa and spread across Eurasia some 1.8 million years ago.

    What does all this mean? Did humans first evolve in North Africa? In the Middle East? In China? Or perhaps there are even older remains of Homo sapiens just waiting to be discovered in the African heartlands?

    Assaf says that at this stage it’s impossible to answer such questions, but it seems that many of the things that make us human – the ability to plan ahead, to shape our environment, to create complex and enduring societies – appeared much earlier than we previously thought.

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    Default Re: Anient teeth found in Israeli cave?

    Oldest Homo sapiens bones ever found shake foundations of the human story

    Bron theguardian.com

    Idea that modern humans evolved in East Africa 200,000 years ago challenged by extraordinary discovery of 300,000-year-old remains in Moroccan mine



    Fossils recovered from an old mine on a desolate mountain in Morocco have rocked one of the most enduring foundations of the human story: that Homo sapiens arose in a cradle of humankind in East Africa 200,000 years ago.

    Archaeologists unearthed the bones of at least five people at Jebel Irhoud, a former barite mine 100km west of Marrakesh, in excavations that lasted years. They knew the remains were old, but were stunned when dating tests revealed that a tooth and stone tools found with the bones were about 300,000 years old.

    “My reaction was a big ‘wow’,” said Jean-Jacques Hublin, a senior scientist on the team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. “I was expecting them to be old, but not that old.”

    Hublin said the extreme age of the bones makes them the oldest known specimens of modern humans and poses a major challenge to the idea that the earliest members of our species evolved in a “Garden of Eden” in East Africa one hundred thousand years later.

    “This gives us a completely different picture of the evolution of our species. It goes much further back in time, but also the very process of evolution is different to what we thought,” Hublin told the Guardian. “It looks like our species was already present probably all over Africa by 300,000 years ago. If there was a Garden of Eden, it might have been the size of the continent.”

    Jebel Irhoud has thrown up puzzles for scientists since fossilised bones were first found at the site in the 1960s. Remains found in 1961 and 1962, and stone tools recovered with them, were attributed to Neanderthals and at first considered to be only 40,000 years old. At the time, a popular view held that modern humans evolved from Neanderthals. Today, the Neanderthals are considered a sister group that lived alongside, and even bred with, our modern human ancestors.



    In fresh excavations at the Jebel Irhoud site, Hublin and others found more remains, including a partial skull, a jawbone, teeth and limb bones belonging to three adults, a juvenile, and a child aged about eight years old. The remains, which resemble modern humans more than any other species, were recovered from the base of an old limestone cave that had its roof smashed in during mining operations at the site. Alongside the bones, researchers found sharpened flint tools, a good number of gazelle bones, and lumps of charcoal, perhaps left over from fires that warmed those who once lived there.

    “It’s rather a desolate landscape, but on the horizon you have the Atlas mountains with snow on top and it’s very beautiful,” said Hublin. “When we found the skull and mandible I was emotional. They are only fossils, but they have been human beings and very quickly you make a connection with these people who lived and died here 300,000 years ago.”

    adult_mandible_Jebel_Irhoud.jpg
    The first almost complete adult mandible discovered
    at the site of Jebel Irhoud. The bone morphology and
    the dentition display a combination of archaic and
    evolved features.



    Scientists have long looked to East Africa as the birthplace of modern humans. Until the latest findings from Jebel Irhoud, the oldest known remnants of our species were found at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia and dated to 195,000 years old. Other fossils and genetic evidence all point to an African origin for modern humans.

    In the first of two papers published in Nature on Wednesday, the researchers describe how they compared the freshly-excavated fossils with those of modern humans, Neanderthals and ancient human relatives that lived up to 1.8m years ago. Facially, the closest match was with modern humans. The lower jaw was similar to modern Homo sapiens too, but much larger. The most striking difference was the shape of the braincase which was more elongated than that of humans today. It suggests, said Hublin, that the modern brain evolved in Homo sapiens and was not inherited from a predecessor.

    Apart from being more stout and muscular, the adults at Jebel Irhoud looked similar to people alive today. “The face of the specimen we found is the face of someone you could meet on the tube in London,” Hublin said. In a second paper, the scientists lay out how they dated the stone tools to between 280,000 and 350,000 years, and a lone tooth to 290,000 years old.

    Levallois.jpg
    The tools found were based on a knapping
    technique called Levallois, adding to the
    realisation that the sophisticated way of
    shaping tools originated earlier than thought.



    The remains of more individuals may yet be found at the site. But precisely what they were doing there is unclear. Analysis of the flint tools shows that the stones came not from the local area, but from a region 50km south of Jebel Irhoud. “Why did they come here? They brought their toolkit with them and they exhausted it,” Hublin said. “The tools they brought with them have been resharpened, resharpened, and resharpened again. They did not produce new tools on the spot. It might be that they did not stay that long, or maybe it was an area they would come to do something specific. We think they were hunting gazelles, there are a lot of gazelle bones, and they were making a lot of fires.”

    Hublin concedes that scientists have too few fossils to know whether modern humans had spread to the four corners of Africa 300,000 years ago. The speculation is based on what the scientists see as similar features in a 260,000-year-old skull found in Florisbad in South Africa.

    But he finds the theory compelling. “The idea is that early Homo sapiens dispersed around the continent and elements of human modernity appeared in different places, and so different parts of Africa contributed to the emergence of what we call modern humans today,” he said.

    John McNabb, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton, said: “One of the big questions about the emergence of anatomically modern humans has been did our body plan evolve quickly or slowly. This find seems to suggest the latter. It seems our faces became modern long before our skulls took on the shape they have today.”

    oldest-homo-sapiens.jpg

    Two views of a composite reconstruction of the
    earliest known Homo sapiens fossils from Jebel
    Irhoud The braincase (blue) indicates that brain
    shape, and possibly brain function, evolved
    within the Homo sapiens lineage.



    “There are some intriguing possibilities here too. The tools the people at Jebel Irhoud were making were based on a knapping technique called Levallois, a sophisticated way of shaping stone tools. The date of 300,000 years ago adds to a growing realisation that Levallois originates a lot earlier than we thought. Is Jebel Irhoud telling us that this new technology is linked to the emergence of the hominin line that will lead to modern humans? Does the new find imply there was more than one hominin lineage in Africa at this time? It really stirs the pot.”

    Lee Berger, whose team recently discovered the 300,000 year-old Homo naledi, an archaic-looking human relative, near the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site outside Johannesburg, said dating the Jebel Irhoud bones was thrilling, but is unconvinced that modern humans lived all over Africa so long ago. “They’ve taken two data points and not drawn a line between them, but a giant map of Africa,” he said.

    John Shea, an archaeologist at Stony Brook University in New York who was not involved in the study, said he was cautious whenever researchers claimed they had found the oldest of anything. “It’s best not to judge by the big splash they make when they are first announced, but rather to wait and see some years down the line whether the waves from that splash have altered the shoreline,” he said, adding that stone tools can move around in cave sediments and settle in layers of a different age.

    Shea was also uneasy with the scientists combining fossils from different individuals, and comparing reconstructions of complete skulls from fragmentary remains. “Such ‘chimeras’ can look very different from the individuals on which they are based,” he said.

    “For me, claiming these remains are Homo sapiens stretches the meaning of that term a bit,” Shea added. “These humans who lived between 50,000-300,000 years ago are a morphologically diverse bunch. Whenever we find more than a couple of them from the same deposits, such as at Omo Kibish and Herto in Ethiopia or Skhul and Qafzeh in Israel, their morphology is all over the place both within and between samples.”

    But Jessica Thompson, an anthropologist at Emory University in Atlanta, said the new results show just how incredible the Jebel Irhoud site is. “These fossils are the rarest of the rare because the human fossil record from this time period in Africa is so poorly represented. They give us a direct look at what early members of our species looked like, as well as their behaviour.

    “You might also look twice at the brow ridges if you saw them on a living person. It might not be a face you’d see every day, but you would definitely recognise it as human,” she said. “It really does look like in Africa especially, but also globally, our evolution was characterised by numerous different species all living at the same time and possibly even in the same places.”

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