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Earth Science

Scientists Discover the Oldest Human Fossils Outside Africa (npr.org) 107

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa, suggesting that humans first migrated out of the content much earlier than previously believed. NPR reports: The scientists were digging in a cave called Misliya, on the slopes of Mount Carmel on the northern coast of Israel. "The cave is one of a series of prehistoric caves," says Mina Weinstein-Evron of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who led the team. "It's a collapsed cave, but people lived there before it collapsed." The cave had been occupied for several hundred thousand years, she says. All the archaeological evidence suggested that the ancient people who lived in the cave were hunter-gatherers. "They were hunting animals, mainly ungulates, like fallow dear, gazelle, aurochs [an extinct species of wild cattle] and other small animals," says Weinstein-Evron. "They built fireplaces throughout the length of the cave, again and again, in the same place, in the same sort of defined arrangement."

Weinstein-Evron says she and her team wanted to find out which species of ancient humans lived in the cave. So, she says, they kept digging. "And among the animal bones and flint tools we found a jawbone, an upper jawbone of an individual," she says. A detailed analysis of the jawbone and the teeth confirmed that it indeed belonged to someone of our species, Homo sapiens. And when they dated the fossil, it turned out to be between 177,000 and 194,000 years old, making it the oldest known such fossil outside the African continent.

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Scientists Discover the Oldest Human Fossils Outside Africa

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  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Saturday January 27, 2018 @05:11AM (#56013993)

    "...were hunter-gatherers. "They were hunting animals.."

    Yes, that's how it works. You hunt animals, you gather plants. Not the other way around.

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @07:43AM (#56014223) Homepage Journal

      You hunt animals, you gather plants.

      Maybe these people really did do it the other way round.

      Do you have a more plausible explanation for why they're all dead?

      • You hunt animals, you gather plants.

        Maybe these people really did do it the other way round.

        Do you have a more plausible explanation for why they're all dead?

        Old Age, perhaps?

    • by c ( 8461 )

      You hunt animals, you gather plants. Not the other way around.

      Explain "herding".

      You're not wrong about hunting plants though.

      • You're not wrong about hunting plants though.

        Kudzu can outrun many Americans.

        • by c ( 8461 )

          Kudzu can outrun many Americans.

          As long as it can't outrun an armed American driving a pickup truck, they'll still hunt it.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Yes, that's how it works. You hunt animals, you gather plants. Not the other way around.

      You never read or saw the documentary "The Day of the Triffids"?
      And don't eat gathered eggs, for that matter?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 27, 2018 @05:19AM (#56014011)

    Humans migrated out of the content fairly recently. In fact before Google it was all content. Now it's all ads.

    • Good spot. I consider myself to be a pedant of the first order but I missed that one.

      Oh, and fuck the mods with a broken bottle.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Oh, and fuck the mods with a broken bottle.

        I guess we all have our kinks, but being attracted to mods with a broken bottle is likely an uncommon one.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Any proof which way they were heading?

  • Continent not content.
  • Look, the definition of what is Africa is quite arbitrary and recent. The Levant region is quite close.

    Homo sapiens probably got into Levant region and southern Arabian peninsula probably. Did they get past the Neanderthals beyond Persian gulf or into Turkey?

    It is generally believed H sapiens broke out a few times before in the past into Arabian peninsula. But only after the Great Leap Forward, 75000 years ago, they were able to break really out that region past Persian gulf.

    The Great Leap could have b

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Humanity tends to the coast and river mouths because of the blending of resources types. Repeated ice ages have totally destroyed that history, going through the surf zone does not exactly preserve the coastal habitation record. Likely more advanced humans with timber based infrastructure were completely wiped from the record so far investigated. Possibly more could be found at ice age river mouth locations if silt build up as a result of major flooding was fast enough but you have to find them first.

  • One day they'll find the master of that cave, an ape.
  • That if the fossil was found where they say - and it's on the edge of say 190,000 years old that in my thinking pushes the existence of homo sapiens out to 200,000-250,000 years.

    And basically we were hunter/gatherer for close to 245,000 years. Oh and this puts a serious dent in the Earth at 6,000 years old crowd.
    • We already have dates for modern humans of about that age from mitochondrial DNA analysis. The matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA), known as "Mitochondrial Eve" dates to 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. This won't be the true origin of modern humans, which will be older, since MtDNA lineages go extinct in small populations periodically, this is only the oldest lineage they avoided extinction.

  • are not the remains of the oldest human. The odds are than humans are older still. The question you need to ask yourself if humans can go from a hunter/gathering tribe to civilization is 13,000 yrs like they did in America what have humans been doing for 200,000 yrs and more. Something is wrong.
  • "They built fireplaces throughout the length of the cave, again and again, in the same place, in the same sort of defined arrangement."

    Seems to me that any tribe of humans that relies upon caves and uses fire pits might very well cause extensive health issues and limit their success as a group. Since we do not know yet if they advanced beyond being cave dwellers they certainly are a poor candidate for being an Adam and Eve keystone offshoot of modern humans. I doubt that they actually used the caves as a permanent place of long term residence, however if they did then most likely the health problems created by the air quality did some very

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      And it's a problem even today. One of the projects of several NGOs has been to teach people in third world countries to use indoor cooking/heating stoves with chimneys and dampers. Better air quality and much less fuel consumed. The collection of which is a major task for the communities.

  • Scientists Discover the Oldest Human Fossils Outside Africa

    Hold muh beer, y'all. I gotta go out back of the trailer and fetch granny's skullbone.

  • There is a huge misconception even among many paleontologists concerning the out-of-Africa "waves". Your typical band of hunter-gather humans can cover 500 miles a year. The walk from lake Victoria to Greece by way of the Nile, the Mediterranean coast and Black Sea coast is roughly 6500 miles. That is just 13 years of walking. The conceptions of the theory over-emphasize humans staying in Africa. Two ice ages intersect this timeline. Partly depending on the climate and coastline levels, humans would ha
    • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Saturday January 27, 2018 @02:32PM (#56015803) Journal
      You seem to have the huge misconception that hunter-gather's simply wonder around aimlessly, wherever the path may take them. That is completely untrue, tribes had home ranges which they knew like the back of their hands. If they had to travel outside known territory, where they didn't know where water, hunting grounds, danger areas, safe places to camp were located than they would definitely not be doing 500 miles a year. Most of their time would be spent scouting, gathering resources and planning the next (short) leg of the journey
      • A favorite niche food of our ancestors was fresh water mussels. Some hypothesize that the reason we are less hairy than other apes is due to the amount of time we spent getting in and out of the water. Once an area of a creek was harvested, it did not recover quickly. This would have encouraged unidirectional movement to the next creek and then the next. It is not hard to imagine that some early humans would have migrated along a path that followed consecutive drainage basins. Some of these paths lead out o

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