Earliest human remains found in Israel

Photo: British Museum (Natural History). SIDE-VIEW OF A PREHISTORIC HUMAN SKULL DISCOVERED IN 1921 IN BROKEN HILL CAVE, NORTHERN RHODESIA Very striking are the prominent eyebrow ridges and the broad massive face. The skull looks less domed than that of modern man, but its cranial capacity is far above the lowest human limit. The teeth are interesting in showing marked rotting or "caries," hitherto unknown in prehistoric skulls. In all probability the Rhodesian man was an African representative of the extinct Neanderthal species hitherto known only from Europe.

Like the discovery of the famous Rhodesian Man remains shown here, the teeth of Qesem Cave will go down in archaeological history. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/J. Arthur Thomson/Wikipedia)

According to what was the most accepted scientific theory, Homo sapiens first originated on what we now know as Africa. MSNBC reports today that archaeologist Avi Gopher and a team of Israeli scientists from the University of Tel-Aviv may have found the earliest human remains on record. Teeth discovered in Qesem Cave near Tel-Aviv in central Israel are estimated to be 400,000 years old, which is twice as old as the oldest Homo sapiens remains previously discovered in Ethiopia.

Earliest human remains must still be verified

While Avi Gopher and his team are excited about the discovery of teeth in Qesem Cave, additional research and verification is needed (including CT scans, X-rays and more) to confirm that the discovery is indeed the earliest human remains to be found. Gopher told the American Journal of Physical Anthropology that if the claim surrounding the Qesem Cave teeth is proven, “the whole picture of evolution” will change. Specifically, it will challenge the African genesis theory that humans migrated out of Africa via land bridges about 80,000 years ago.

Modern man, or just relatives of Homo sapiens?

Naturally, historians are skeptical of the Qesem Cave find. Prehistory expert Sir Paul Mellars of Cambridge University recognizes that the dental discovery is significant, but the teeth may not actually come from Homo sapiens. Mellars speculates that it is more likely that the Qesem Cave discovery can be traced back to ancient Homo sapiens relatives like Neanderthals or something older. Those groups are theorized to have left Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Other tools discovered

In addition to the teeth, Gopher and crew found flint blades and animal bones in Qesem Cave. This is consistent with the theory that Qesem Cave was historically used by large-game hunters as a kind of primitive slaughterhouse and meat preparation area. Radioisotope dating indicates that the cave was occupied at least as early as 382,000 years BP (Before Present), where 1950 (when radiocarbon dating began) is marked as “present.” Qesem Cave was used for a similar purpose by hunters until at least 200,000 BP.



Wikipedia entry for Qesem Cave

The earliest evolution of dance


Other recent posts by bryanh