Science magazine echoes the finding of a new group of the genus Homo in the Israeli excavation of Nesher Ramla that resembles pre- Neanderthal populations in Europe and, furthermore, challenges the prevailing hypothesis that Neanderthals originated on the Old Continent. This new type of primitive human would have lived between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago. According to its discoverers, its morphology shares characteristics both with Neanderthals (especially teeth and jaws) and with archaic Homo sapiens (especially the skull). At the same time, this type of Homo is very different from modern humans: it shows a completely different skull structure, no chin and very large teeth.
Researchers believe that Nesher Ramla’s man is the source population from which most Middle Pleistocene humans developed. Furthermore, they suggest that this group would be the so-called ‘disappeared’ population that mated with Homo sapiens that arrived in the region about 200,000 years ago, and of whose existence we are aware from a recent study on fossils found in the Misliya cave.
Interactions with ‘Homo sapiens’
“The discovery of a new type of Homo is of great scientific importance. It allows us to give new meaning to previously found human fossils, add another piece to the puzzle of human evolution, and understand the migrations of humans in the old world. Although they lived so long ago, in the late Middle Pleistocene (474,000-130,000 years ago), the population of Nesher Ramla can tell us a fascinating story, revealing much about the evolution and way of life of their descendants “, explained Israel Hershkovitz, an anthropologist at Tel Aviv University.
“Archaeological finds associated with human fossils show that Nesher Ramla man possessed advanced stone, tool-making technologies, and probably would also have interacted with local Homo sapiens ,” explains Yossi Zaidner, another of the authors. Culture , the way of life and behavior of this new type of hominid are analyzed in a complementary article also published in the journal Science .
For the authors, the discovery of the man by Nesher Ramla challenges the prevailing hypothesis that Neanderthals originated in Europe, as it suggests that the ancestors of European Neanderthals lived in the Levant 400,000 years ago, repeatedly migrating west to Europe and east to Asia.
In addition, despite the absence of DNA in the fossil remains found, the researchers believe that these findings offer a solution to a great mystery in the evolution of the genus Homo : how did the genes of Homo sapiens penetrate the Neanderthal population that presumably lived in Europe for a long time before your arrival?
Geneticists who studied the DNA of European Neanderthals had already suggested the existence of a population similar to Neanderthals, which they called the ‘missing population’ or ‘population X’ that would have mated with Homo sapiens more than 200,000 ago. years. In the new paper, the researchers suggest that Nesher Ramla’s man could be that population hitherto disappeared from the human fossil record.