Scientists find Neanderthal ancestor, challenging what we thought about human evolution

Story Highlights

  • Scientists found fossils dating back 130,000 years in Israel.
  • The nearly discovered human species are thought to be ancestors of the Neanderthals
  • The discovery challenges scientists beliefs about human evolution

Scientists said on Thursday they had discovered a new kind of early human in Israel after studying pieces of fossilized bone dug up at a site used by a cement plant in central Israel.

After studying fossils in Israel, scientists said they discovered a new kind of early human. Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told Reuters they found pieces of a skull and lower jaw with teeth dating back 130,000 years, calling into question what we thought we that we knew about the human family tree.

The fossil discovered has been named Nesher Ramla Homo, after the place southeast of Tel Aviv where it was found. The new species coexisted with Homo sapiens for more than 100,000 years. Some scientists even said the two species may have even interbred.

“The discovery of a new type of Homo is of great scientific importance,” Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University, one of the leaders of the team that analyzed the remains said. “It enables us to make new sense of previously found human fossils, add another piece to the puzzle of human evolution, and understand the migrations of humans in the old world.”

A pictured released by the Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on June 24, 2021 shows fossil remains of a skull and a jaw that were uncovered at the site of excavations in the quarry of a cement plant near the central city of Ramla. – Bones belonging to a "new type of early human" previously unknown to science have been found in Israel, researchers said on June 24, 2021, claiming to have shed new light on human evolution. Excavations in the quarry of a cement plant near the central city of Ramla uncovered prehistoric remains that could not be matched to any known species from the Homo genus. (Photo: -, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY/AFP via Gett)

The discovery also unveiled characteristics of the new species, including they had very large teeth and no chin. The fossils were found among stone tools and the bones of horses and deer, similar to pre-Neanderthal groups in Europe. 

The skull was flat and a 3D shape analysis eliminated a connection to any other known group. These findings all challenge the original thinking that our evolutionary cousins originated in Europe.

Dinosaur fossils: Fossils of oldest titanosaur discovered in Argentina

Giant rhino: Newly discovered giant rhino species was among largest mammals ever to walk Earth

“This is what makes us suggest that this Nesher Ramla group is actually a large group that started very early in time and are the source of the European Neanderthal,” Hila May, a physical anthropologist at the Dan David Center and the Shmunis Institute of Tel Aviv University said.

Experts have never been able to fully explain how Homo sapiens genes were present in the earlier Neanderthal population in Europe, May said. And she believes the Nesher Ramla may be able to uncover that mystery. 

Source: Read Full Article