Oldest Homo sapiens outside Africa found in Greece

11 Juillet, 2019, 16:05 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Oldest Homo sapiens outside Africa found in Greece

One fragmentary skull has been dated to 210,000 years ago, and researchers believe that it is the earliest evidence of modern humans living in Eurasia, according to a new study.

The results confirmed that Apidima 2 belonged to a Neanderthal who lived about 170,000 years ago.

The discovery suggests Homo Sapiens migrated out of Africa on multiple occasions before conquering the world.

The sensational discovery adds to evidence of an earlier migration of people from Africa that left no trace in the DNA of people alive today.

The researchers announced their findings in the British science journal Nature on Wednesday.

A team of researchers from the Universities of Tübingen and Athens, and including the Natural History Museum's Professor Chris Stringer, conducted a new study of the samples.

The breccia was dated to between 100,000 and 190,000 years old at the time.

The two partial skulls were not near anything that offered archaeologists useful clues about their origin: no stone tools, no animal remains, nothing. Given the fragmentary nature of the skulls, they were hard to remove and clean, though that eventually happened in the 1990s.

Reconstructions of the Apidima 1 cranium revealed a high and rounded shape - a unique feature of modern humans which contrasts sharply with Neanderthals.

Map shows locations of key early fossils of Homo sapiens, or modern humans, and related species in Africa and Eurasia.

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But the recent study from a multinational team led by Katerina Harvati reconstructed the specimens digitally and dated them by measuring their radioactive decay.

Harvati and her colleagues took CT scans of the fossils and created virtual 3D reconstructions.

A second skull found in the same location was estimated to be at least 170,000 years old with Neanderthal features.

While only the back portion of the skull of Apidima 1 remained, it was enough for the researchers to make a positive identification.

Paleoanthropologist Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University- whose team discovered the Misliya cave jaw and assigned it to a Homo Sapiens jaw, says, "it is still possible that both Apidima skulls are Neanderthals'". The rounded back is just like a modern human's; Neanderthals have a bulge at the back of the skull that nearly resembles a hair bun. A fossil unearthed in the Middle East is said to be 180,000 years old.

"The specimen is more than 150,000 older than the oldest modern human specimens known from Europe until now".

An global team - including Manchester University experts - created virtual reconstructions of each using state-of-the-art technology.

"Oldest remains" outside Africa reset human migration clock. But then again, humans arriving in Mediterranean Europe thousands of years later, would have eventually replaced those Neanderthals that went extinct some 40,000 years back. The cave overlooked a coastal plain that was probably flawless for hunting, while the cave itself provided shelter. Located in southern Greece, it probably offered provided a more stable and warmer climate than most other places, with plenty of water and feeding opportunities around it.

But the latest findings, in no way, can exclude the possibility that H. sapiens and Neanderthals coexisted in southeastern Europe more than 2 lakh years ago and occasionally interbred also.

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