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Qesem Cave has revealed a wealth of archaelogical info, including evidence to support the hypothesis that humans evolved in Israel.  (Source: Mary Stiner)

Tel Aviv Professor Avi Gopher holds one of the excavated human teeth, that may be the oldest human remains found to date.  (Source: Oded Balilty/AP Photo)

A variety of early human teeth were found in the cave.  (Source: University of Tel Aviv)
Remains were dated back to 400,000 years ago -- the early human remains found

An active area of debate in the paleontological and archaeological communities is the question of where mankind evolved.  Scientists generally believe that humans diverged from Neanderthals around 500,000 years ago -- but the question of where they involved has provoked much controversy.  The prevailing sentiment has been that while primates may have evolved in Asia or elsewhere, the human species evolved in Africa.  This notion has been supported by the fact that all the recent major hominid discoveries [1] [2] [3] came from African excavations.  

But a new discovery by archaeologists from Israel's Tel Aviv University (TAU) argues that humans may have evolved in Israel, based on the finding of 200,000-400,000 year old remains in Qesem Cave, a pre-historic site located near Rosh Ha'ayinin in Israel Center District, which borders the Mediterranean Ocean.

Prof. Avi Gopher, Dr. Ran Barkai, and Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of TAU led the dig.  Leading a team of international researchers, they unearthed eight human teeth.  

Previous studies have dated the cave as having been accessible from 200,000 to 400,000 years ago.  Morphological studies, including CT scans and X-rays, showed that the teeth indeed belonged to modern humans.

The researchers comment that evidence garnered at the site showcases an industrious early society that engaged in systematic production of flint blades; the regular use of fire; evidence of hunting, cutting and sharing of animal meat; and mining raw materials to produce flint tools from subsurface sources.

Scientists are analyzing the site and the various items found therein for clues into how humans' physiology and behavior evolved to its current state.  The researchers believe the individuals whose remains were found may have been poised at a critical point in human evolution and adaptation.

The researchers' assertion that humans did not originate in Africa is supported by recent findings of human remains in China and Spain that were older than expected.  While these remains were not as old as the Qesem Cave find, they were old enough to call into question the African descent hypothesis.

The discovery of 100,000 year-old remains in the Skhul Cave in the Carmel and Qafzeh Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth, Israel, was another important precursor to the current study.

The study can be found in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and you can view the abstract here.

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Early advances
By PrinceGaz on 12/31/2010 10:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
Early advances were probably not discovered one after another by ancient civilizations, rather a few were discovered by some, a few others by another group, and so on. Which advances were learned is likely down to the environment said tribe was living in, and not whether they were any different in any way from others elsewhere. The fact that certain things were discovered in what is now called Israel with a good location on the edge of the eastern Meditteranean should come as no surprise.

Technological advances have throughout history allowed certain countries to conquer others in battle, but they always fail in the long run as empires invariably collapse.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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