Don’t let the title of this post fool you. Jimmy Carter is not currently in Israel.
A jawbone with teeth recently discovered in Mount Carmel’s Misliya Cave dating back 177,000 to 194,000 years, proves Homo sapiens were present in the Levant at least 50,000 years earlier than previously believed, Israeli scientists announced on Thursday.
Until now, the earliest remains of modern humans found outside of Africa, at the Skhul and Qafzeh Caves in Israel, were dated to between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago.
“This finding completely changes our view on modern human dispersal and the history of modern human evolution,” said Prof. Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University Sackler Faculty of Medicine’s department of anatomy and anthropology.
The scientists applied various dating techniques to the fossil to determine that the jawbone is at least 170,000 years old. The team also analyzed the remains using micro-CT scans and 3D virtual models to compare it with other hominin fossils discovered in parts of Africa, Europe and Asia.
Based on fossils found in Ethiopia, the common consensus among anthropologists has been that modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 160,000 to 200,000 years ago, and that modern humans evolved in Africa and started migrating out of the continent around 100,000 years ago.
“But if the fossil at Misliya dates to roughly 170,000 to 190,000 years ago, the entire narrative of the evolution of Homo sapiens must be pushed back by at least 100,000-200,000 years,” Hershkovitz said.
“In other words,” he continued, “if modern humans started traveling out of Africa some 200,000 years ago, it follows that they must have originated in Africa at least 300,000 to 500,000 years ago.”
Coming soon: palestinian insistence the jawbone belongs to one of their ancestors.