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Discovery in Israel of a new species of the genus Homo

Eight meters deep, at the prehistoric site of Nesher Ramla in Israel, Dr. Zaidner probably did not expect to make a discovery that would revolutionize our knowledge of the origin of Neanderthals.null

During excavations near the town of Ramla, researchers found prehistoric human remains that they could not attribute to a species of the genus  Homo already defined. In an article published in the journal  Science , a team of anthropologists from Tel Aviv University and a team of archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem therefore define a new type of the Homo genus  , the Nesher Ramla type. This is the first described in Israel and is named after the site where it was discovered. The human remains, which consist of part of the cranial vault and a mandible , belonged to an individual who is believed to have lived between 140,000 and 120,000 years BC.

The morphology of these bones is remarkable in that some of the dental and jaw characters are common with those of Neanderthals , while those of the skull are shared with archaic individuals of the genus  Homo . In addition, the Homo type  of Nesher Ramla differs from modern man because of its cranial structure, because of its absence of a chin (which is a characteristic specific to  H. sapiens ) and the presence of very large teeth.

The authors also indicate that the fossil of the Man of Nesher Ramla was found in association with bones of horses, deer and aurochs as well as tools attesting to advanced stone cutting technology . The authors recall that this fossil of Man by Nesher Ramla is not the only one whose classification has baffled anthropologists . Several human fossils previously unearthed in Israel showed similar morphological characteristics and can now no doubt be attributed to this new type of the genus  Homo .

Bone remains belonging to Homo Nesher Ramla and found in Israel.  © Tel Aviv University
Bone remains belonging to  Homo Nesher Ramla and found in Israel. © Tel Aviv University  

Homo Nesher Ramla: the “missing” population?

Nesher Ramla’s discovery of the human type shakes up the hitherto privileged hypothesis of an emergence of Neanderthals in Europe which would then have migrated in small groups towards the south to escape the formation of glaciers and which would have reached Israel 70,000 ago. years. Rather, the fossil suggests that the ancestor of Neanderthals in Europe lived in the Near East 400,000 years ago and migrated several times to Europe and Asia.

This “missing” population in the fossil record to which Homo Nesher Ramla now belongs  is believed to be the source population from which most Pleistocene humans developed. This therefore implies that the Neanderthals of Western Europe would only constitute a residual population of a larger group originating in the Near East.

Cranial morphologies of several hominins.  © stockdevil, Adobe Stock
Cranial morphologies of several hominins. © stockdevil, Adobe Stock

The authors of the study further suggest that individuals of the Nesher Ramla type have reproduced with  Homo sapiens , which arrived 200,000 years ago in the Near East. The spatio-temporal localization of the fossil of Nesher Ramla would therefore make it possible to explain how genes of  H. sapiens were found in the European population of Neanderthals long before the arrival of modern humans in Europe. However, the fossil of the Man of Nesher Ramla does not contain DNA and although its belonging to a « source » population of the genus  Homo is today favored by the authors, it remains in suspense.

Source : futura Sciences

Par Jules Bercy

A writer a blogger passionate about science, history politics, the general knowledge of our planet and the Universe...

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