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55,000-Year-Old Skull Fragment Found in Israel

55,000-Year-Old Skull Fragment Found in Israel

January 30, 2015

Social Sciences & Humanities

Life Science — Researchers have discovered a 55,000-year-old partial skull in the northern Israel community of Manot, from about the time when modern humans expanded out of Africa.

human-skull-fragmentThe investigators say the anatomy of this fossil may offer clues about what the first modern human Europeans were like.

The team that made the discovery includes Prof. Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University with archaeologists Dr. Ofer Marder of Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near East Studies, and Dr. Omry Barzilai of the Israel Antiquities Authority. They recently published their finding in the journal Nature.

The finding sheds light on the migration of modern humans out of Africa, and could provide insights into when modern humans first interbred with Neanderthals. Read about what this discovery reveals about modern humans and Neanderthals on CNN.com >>

Manot Cave

The Manot cave where the skull fragment was discovered.

Modern humans first arose between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago in Africa. Science has suggested the African exodus of modern humans started between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago, but much remains a mystery about this dispersal because of the scarcity of human fossils from this time.

This ancient human skull fragment, including the top but not the jaw, may come from a close relative of the first modern humans to colonize Europe.

The fossil was discovered accidentally in 2008, when a bulldozer unearthed a cave during a construction project in Manot.

“The original entrance to the cave was sealed off by a rock fall about 30,000 years ago, making it a relatively pristine time capsule,” says BGU’s Dr. Ofer Marder, one of the leaders of the study.

Read more on the Life Science website >>