Previously Unknown Type Of Archaic Human Discovered In Israel

Science

IFLScience 24 June, 2021 - 01:00pm 70 views

These authors contributed equally to this work.

Present address: Natural History Museum, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.

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Our understanding of the origin, distribution, and evolution of early humans and their close relatives has been greatly refined by recent new information. Adding to this trend, Hershkovitz et al. have uncovered evidence of a previously unknown archaic Homo population, the “Nesher Ramla Homo” (see the Perspective by Mirazon Lahr). The authors present comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analyses of fossilized remains from a site in Israel dated to 140,000 to 120,000 years ago indicating the presence of a previously unrecognized group of hominins representing the last surviving populations of Middle Pleistocene Homo in Europe, southwest Asia, and Africa. In a companion paper, Zaidner et al. present the radiometric ages, stone tool assemblages, faunal assemblages, and other behavioral and environmental data associated with these fossils. This evidence shows that these hominins had fully mastered technology that until only recently was linked to either Homo sapiens or Neanderthals. Nesher Ramla Homo was an efficient hunter of large and small game, used wood for fuel, cooked or roasted meat, and maintained fires. These findings provide archaeological support for cultural interactions between different human lineages during the Middle Paleolithic, suggesting that admixture between Middle Pleistocene Homo and H. sapiens had already occurred by this time.

Science, abh3169 and abh3020, this issue p. 1424 and p. 1429; see also abj3077, p. 1395

It has long been believed that Neanderthals originated and flourished on the European continent. However, recent morphological and genetic studies have suggested that they may have received a genetic contribution from a yet unknown non-European group. Here we report on the recent discovery of archaic Homo fossils from the site of Nesher Ramla, Israel, which we dated to 140,000 to 120,000 years ago. Comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analyses of the parietal bones, mandible, and lower second molar revealed that this Homo group presents a distinctive combination of Neanderthal and archaic features. We suggest that these specimens represent the late survivors of a Levantine Middle Pleistocene paleodeme that was most likely involved in the evolution of the Middle Pleistocene Homo in Europe and East Asia.

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By Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig, Ariel Pokhojaev, Dominique Grimaud-Hervé, Emiliano Bruner, Cinzia Fornai, Rolf Quam, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Viktoria A. Krenn, Maria Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez de Castro, Laura Martín-Francés, Viviane Slon, Lou Albessard-Ball, Amélie Vialet, Tim Schüler, Giorgio Manzi, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Gerhard W. Weber, Yossi Zaidner

A previously unrecognized group of hominins represents the last surviving populations of Middle Pleistocene Homo.

By Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig, Ariel Pokhojaev, Dominique Grimaud-Hervé, Emiliano Bruner, Cinzia Fornai, Rolf Quam, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Viktoria A. Krenn, Maria Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez de Castro, Laura Martín-Francés, Viviane Slon, Lou Albessard-Ball, Amélie Vialet, Tim Schüler, Giorgio Manzi, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Gerhard W. Weber, Yossi Zaidner

A previously unrecognized group of hominins represents the last surviving populations of Middle Pleistocene Homo.

Read full article at IFLScience

New prehistoric human unknown to science discovered in Israel

The Jerusalem Post 25 June, 2021 - 04:09am

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120,000-year-old fossils in Israel link to human family...

Daily Mail 25 June, 2021 - 04:09am

By Chris Ciaccia For Dailymail.Com and Associated Press

Researchers analyzing a number of bones that were found in an Israeli quarry more than a decade ago have confirmed they are from a branch of the human evolutionary tree connected to Neanderthals and could be anywhere between 120,000 and 140,000 years old.

The bones, which include parts of a skull, lower jaw bone and tooth, were found in Nesher Ramla, Israel, in 2010.

The anthropologists compared them to hundreds of fossils around the world from different eras and determined they came from a group closely related to Neanderthals.

The bones appear to share many of the same features that Neanderthals did, including the shape of the lower jaw. 

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The team suspect that the Nesher Ramla people were the source from which most humans of the Middle Pleistocene developed — including 'European' Neanderthals

There are also enough similarities to link the group to other populations found in prior cave excavations in Israel dating to around 400,000 years ago.

'The teeth have some unique features that enable us to draw a line between these populations,' said Tel Aviv University dental anthropologist Rachel Sarig, a co-author of the paper published Thursday in the journal Science, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Homo sapiens are widely believed to have originated in Africa about 270,000 years ago.

From there, they took routes to Eurasia, passing through Levant and subsequently, Boker Tachtit, Israel, or they went to remote areas of Asia and beyond.

Neanderthals went extinct between 50,000 and 35,000 years ago, as modern humans began to settle throughout Europe and Asia.  

A study published earlier this month suggested that humans and Neanderthals lived together in Israel's Negev desert, passing through Levant and subsequently, Boker Tachit. 

This group probably inhabited the region from around 400,000 to 100,000 years ago, said Tel Aviv University physical anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz, another co-author. 

He said the remains found at Nesher Ramla are likely from 'some of the last survivors of a once very dominant group in the Middle East.'

The team suspects the Nesher Ramla people were the source from which many humans of the Middle Pleistocene developed — including 'European' Neanderthals. 

Prior research has shown that homo sapiens - modern humans - also lived in the region at the same time.

This undated image provided by Tel Aviv University in June 2021 shows a virtual reconstruction of a human ancestor mandible found in Nesher Ramla, Israel

Scientists said the bones found in an Israeli quarry are from a branch of the human evolutionary tree and are 120,000 to 140,000 years old

The bones, which include parts of a skull, lower jaw bone and tooth, were originally found in 2010

The bones appear to share many of the same features that Neanderthals did, including the shape of the lower jaw 

A study published earlier this month suggested that humans and Neanderthals lived together in Israel's Negev desert  

The fossilized bones were originally found in Nesher Ramla, Israel, in 2010

 The remains were found during a dig in the mining area of the Nesher cement plant. 

Digging 26 feet down, the researchers also found large quantities of animals bones — including horses, fallow deer and and ox-like aurochs — and stone tools.

The new findings add to research showing that homo sapiens and Neanderthal-like groups overlapped in the Middle East over a significant amount of time, probably tens of thousands of years.

There were likely cultural and genetic exchanges between the groups, the paper authors suggest. 'The Neanderthal story can no longer be told as a European story only. It´s a much more complicated story,' said Hershkovitz.

Sheela Athreya, a Texas A&M University paleoanthropologist who was not involved in the study, said the new research 'gives us a lot to think about in terms of the history of population groups in this region, and how they may have interacted with populations in other regions, in Europe and North Africa.'

The Nesher Ramla fossils 'look like something on a lineage heading toward Neanderthal,' said Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at Lehman College in New York who was not involved in the study. He characterized the findings as 'fossils of what appears to be an intermediate variety - this group may be predecessors to Neanderthals in this area.'

The Neanderthals were a close human ancestor that mysteriously died out around 40,000 years ago.

The species lived in Africa with early humans for millennia before moving across to Europe around 300,000 years ago.

They were later joined by humans, who entered Eurasia around 48,000 years ago.  

The Neanderthals were a cousin species of humans but not a direct ancestor - the two species split from a common ancestor -  that perished around 50,000 years ago. Pictured is a Neanderthal museum exhibit

These were the original 'cavemen', historically thought to be dim-witted and brutish compared to modern humans.

In recent years though, and especially over the last decade, it has become increasingly apparent we've been selling Neanderthals short.

A growing body of evidence points to a more sophisticated and multi-talented kind of 'caveman' than anyone thought possible.

It now seems likely that Neanderthals had told, buried their dead, painted and even interbred with humans.   

They used body art such as pigments and beads, and they were the very first artists, with Neanderthal cave art (and symbolism) in Spain apparently predating the earliest modern human art by some 20,000 years.

They are thought to have hunted on land and done some fishing. However, they went extinct around 40,000 years ago following the success of Homo sapiens in Europe.  

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120,000-year-old fossils in Israel link to human family tree

Yahoo News 25 June, 2021 - 04:09am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bones found in an Israeli quarry are from a branch of the human evolutionary tree and are 120,000 to 140,000 years old, scientists reported Thursday.

A team of anthropologists spent years analyzing the fragments of a skull, lower jaw bone and tooth that were uncovered in Nesher Ramla in 2010, comparing them to hundreds of fossils around the world from different eras.

The researchers determined that the fossils likely came from a hominin group closely related to Neanderthals and sharing many of their features, such as the shape of the lower jaw. The scientists also believe that there are enough similarities to link this group to other populations found in prior cave excavations in Israel dating to around 400,000 years ago.

This group probably inhabited the region from around 400,000 to 100,000 years ago, said Tel Aviv University physical anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz, another co-author. He said the remains found at Nesher Ramla are likely from “some of the last survivors of a once very dominant group in the Middle East.”

Many scientists believe that the arrival of homo sapiens in Europe presaged the decline of Neanderthals there, but the story may have been different in the Levant region — the crossroads between North Africa and Eurasia.

The new findings add to research showing that homo sapiens and Neanderthal-like groups overlapped in the Middle East over a significant amount of time, probably tens of thousands of years.

There were likely cultural and genetic exchanges between the groups, the paper authors suggest. “The Neanderthal story can no longer be told as a European story only. It’s a much more complicated story,” said Hershkovitz.

Sheela Athreya, a Texas A&M University paleoanthropologist who was not involved in the study, said the new research “gives us a lot to think about in terms of the history of population groups in this region, and how they may have interacted with populations in other regions, in Europe and North Africa.”

The Nesher Ramla fossils “look like something on a lineage heading toward Neanderthal,” said Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at Lehman College in New York who was not involved in the study. He characterized the findings as “fossils of what appears to be an intermediate variety — this group may be predecessors to Neanderthals in this area.”

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

New type of ancient human discovered in Israel

BBC News 25 June, 2021 - 04:09am

They believe that the remains uncovered near the city of Ramla represent one of the "last survivors" of a very ancient human group.

The finds consist of a partial skull and jaw from an individual who lived between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago.

Details have been published in the journal Science.

The team members think the individual descended from an earlier species that may have spread out of the region hundreds of thousands of years ago and given rise to Neanderthals in Europe and their equivalents in Asia.

The scientists have named the newly discovered lineage the "Nesher Ramla Homo type".

Dr Hila May of Tel Aviv University said the discovery reshapes the story of human evolution, particularly those of the Neanderthals. The general picture of Neanderthal evolution had in the past been linked closely with Europe.

"It all started in Israel. We suggest that a local group was the source population," she told BBC News. "During interglacial periods, waves of humans, the Nesher Ramla people, migrated from the Middle East to Europe."

The team thinks that early members of the Nesher Ramla Homo group were already present in the Near East some 400,000 years ago. The researcher have noticed resemblances between the new finds and ancient "pre-Neanderthal" groups in Europe.

"This is the first time we could connect the dots between different specimens found in the Levant" said Dr Rachel Sarig, also from Tel Aviv University.

"There are several human fossils from the caves of Qesem, Zuttiyeh and Tabun that date back to that time that we could not attribute to any specific known group of humans. But comparing their shapes to those of the newly uncovered specimen from Nesher Ramla, justify their inclusion within the [new human] group."

Dr May suggests that these humans were the ancestors of Neanderthals.

"The European Neanderthal actually began here in the Levant and migrated to Europe, while interbreeding with other groups of humans."

Others travelled east to India and China, said Prof Israel Hershkovitz, suggesting a connection between East Asian archaic humans and Neanderthals in Europe.

"Some fossils found in East Asia manifest Neanderthal-like features as the Nesher Ramla do," he said.

The researchers base their claims on similarities in features between the Israeli fossils and those found in Europe and Asia, though their assertion is controversial. Prof Chris Stringer, from the Natural History Museum in London, has recently been assessing Chinese human remains.

"Nesher Ramla is important in confirming yet further that different species co-existed alongside each other in the region at the time and now we have the same story in western Asia," he said.

"However, I think it's a jump too far at the moment to link some of the older Israeli fossils to Neanderthals. I'm also puzzled at suggestions of any special link between the Nesher Ramla material and fossils in China."

The Nesher Ramla remains themselves were found in what used to be a a sinkhole, located in an area frequented by prehistoric humans. This may have been an area where they hunted for wild cattle, horses and deer, as indicated by thousands of stone tools and bones of hunted animals.

According to an analysis by Dr Yossi Zaidner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, these tools were constructed in the same manner that modern humans of the time also made their implements.

"It was a surprise that archaic humans were using tools normally associated with Homo sapiens. This suggests that there were interactions between the two groups," Dr Zaidner said.

"We think that it is only possible to learn how to make the tools through visual or oral learning. Our findings suggest that human evolution is far from simple and involved many dispersals, contacts and interactions between different species of human."

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New species of prehistoric human discovered in Israel

Haaretz 25 June, 2021 - 04:09am

Almost a decade ago, archaeologists in central Israel discovered the fragmentary remains of a very strange hominin skull. After years of study, the researchers revealed their conclusion on Thursday: It...

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The human family tree keeps getting more complicated

Ars Technica 25 June, 2021 - 04:09am

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It's long past time to stop thinking of humanity's nearest relatives as forming a family tree. Our close relatives like the Neanderthals and Denisovans clearly interbred both with us and each other. There are also indications that an older African lineage contributed to our ancestry; Neanderthals seem to have picked up some DNA from an even older lineage as well. All of that makes humanity's ancestry look more like a river delta, with multiple channels separating and reuniting over time.

In today's issue of Science, a group of researchers argue that they have found yet another channel that may sit at a key point in our past. A small collection of bones from a site in the Mideast seems to have a mix of archaic and Neanderthal-like features, suggesting that the bones may be related to the source of archaic DNA in the Neanderthal lineage. But the bones come from well after the Neanderthal lineage was distinct, and the artifacts found with them suggest extensive interactions with other human lineages.

The site, located in Israel, is called Nesher Ramla. Extensive dating of materials found there suggests that the newly described bones date from roughly 120,000 to 140,000 years ago—a complicated time in our species' history, to say the least. Neanderthals and Denisovans had already inhabited Eurasia, which they shared with other archaic human lineages, along with Homo erectus. Modern humans were present in Africa and shared the continent with various archaic lineages, many of which had some modern features. And there is evidence that a lot of these groups crossed paths in the Mideast.

The discovered human bones include part of the parietal bones, which form the roof and sides of the skull, and a portion of the jaw. In many ways, the bones are difficult to characterize because they represent a mix of features that are both archaic and found in more recent lineages. An analysis of the parietal bones places their features awkwardly between groups that include Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and the Homo lineages that were present in Europe at the time. The bones were distant from modern human remains.

The jaw produced similar results, with the new remains perched in between Neanderthals and some of the human lineages present in Europe. Homo erectus was a bit more distant, as were other Eurasian human lineages. Imaging of teeth found separately, along with the roots present in the jaw, provided some additional information.

This placement between groups is the product of individual features looking either like those of Neanderthals or those of archaic human lineages, so the researchers are hesitant to assign a new species. But they do argue that this population was a late survivor of a lineage that goes back to before the origin of Neanderthals and likely contributed to them genetically. That argument isn't outrageous given how much we now know about interbreeding among our ancestors, but it's still likely to be the subject of debate going forward. (In fact, the arguing has already started, with at least one paleontologist asserting that the features don't cleanly distinguish the remains from a variation found within Neanderthals.)

There will probably be further arguing over the fossils' anatomic relationships with other human ancestors. But the Nesher Ramla site doesn't just have bones; there's also an extensive record of stone tools in the sediment layers. And the structure of these tools indicates that they were made via a very specific manufacturing technique called the centripetal Levallois method.

The stone comes from an area near the site, indicating that trade wasn't needed. But the technique used to shape the stone produced artifacts very similar to those associated with Homo sapiens found at sites ranging from North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula. So whatever species or subspecies they were, the people of Nesher Ramla were likely to be culturally integrated with the other human populations around them—at least to the extent that toolmaking techniques were shared.

That's an interesting finding in its own right, but it also serves as a caution. Because of the association of this technology with Homo sapiens, it is tempting to use it as a marker for our spread out of Africa. But if the stone technology was readily adopted by archaic populations as well, we can't make the assumption that it travelled with any specific population, the authors said.

Science, 2021. DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3020, 10.1126/science.abh3169 (About DOIs).

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Israeli scientists find bones belonging to new type of ‘early human’

FRANCE 24 English 25 June, 2021 - 03:45am

The researchers determined that the fossils likely came from a hominin group closely related to Neanderthals and sharing many of their features, such as the shape of the lower jaw. The scientists also believe that there are enough similarities to link this group to other populations found in prior cave excavations in Israel dating to around 400,000 years ago.

“The teeth have some unique features that enable us to draw a line between these populations,” said Tel Aviv University dental anthropologist Rachel Sarig, a co-author of the paper published Thursday in the journal Science.

This group probably inhabited the region from around 400,000 to 100,000 years ago, said Tel Aviv University physical anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz, another co-author. He said the remains found at Nesher Ramla are likely from “some of the last survivors of a once very dominant group in the Middle East.”

Prior research has shown that homo sapiens – modern humans – also lived in the region at the same time.

Many scientists believe that the arrival of homo sapiens in Europe presaged the decline of Neanderthals there, but the story may have been different in the Levant region — the crossroads between North Africa and Eurasia.

The new findings add to research showing that homo sapiens and Neanderthal-like groups overlapped in the Middle East over a significant amount of time, probably tens of thousands of years.

There were likely cultural and genetic exchanges between the groups, the paper authors suggest. “The Neanderthal story can no longer be told as a European storey only. It’s a much more complicated storey,” said Hershkovitz.

Sheela Athreya, a Texas A&M University palaeoanthropologist who was not involved in the study, said the new research "gives us a lot to think about in terms of the history of population groups in this region, and how they may have interacted with populations in other regions, in Europe and North Africa."

The Nesher Ramla fossils “look like something on a lineage heading toward Neanderthal," said Aeric Delson, a palaeoanthropologist at Lehman College in New York who was not involved in the study. He characterised the findings as "fossils of what appears to be an intermediate variety — this group may be predecessors to Neanderthals in this area."

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