Friday, 18 October, 2019

Fossilised skulls provide earliest known evidence of Homo sapiens in Eurasia

Homo sapiens have been in Europe longer than previously thought Homo sapiens have been in Europe longer than previously thought Credit AP
Sandra Phillips | 13 July, 2019, 22:40

It dates back 210,000 years and is the earliest evidence of modern humans on the continent - rewriting the history of mankind.

"Homo sapiens... is extremely clever, extremely resourceful, opportunistic", he said.

The travelers to Greece evidently left no descendants alive today. It is estimated to be between 100,000 and 250,000 years old.

An worldwide team - including Manchester University experts - created virtual reconstructions of each using state-of-the-art technology.

Both individuals are of unknown sex as the incomplete skeletons make determining between male and female impossible.

A cranium unearthed in Greece has been dated to 210,000 years ago, at a time when Europe used to be occupied by the Neanderthals.

But this happened in waves - rather than one event, explained Professor Harvati.

John Hawks, a palaeontologist at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, voiced similar doubts: "Can we really use a small part of the skull like this to recognise our species?" he said.

"The early modern humans in Greece were replaced by Neanderthals".

"To me it's extremely likely that he was able to get out of Africa very quickly and adapt to a lot of different environments".

"But the earlier ones did not leave any genetic contribution to modern humans living today". "These were small populations that made it all the way to Greece".

Initially, scientists thought them to be Neanderthal.

These groups arrived later and would have been larger - competing for food and shelter.

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But the skull discovery in Greece suggests that Homo sapiens undertook the migration from Africa to southern Europe on "more than one occasion", according to Eric Delson, a professor of anthropology at City University of NY.

But they had not been described in detail owing to the fragmented nature of the specimens.

Apidima 2, was unmistakably Neanderthal in origin.

The Apidima 1 partial cranium (top) and its reconstruction from posterior view (middle) and side view (left).

Researchers have found the earliest example of our species (modern humans) outside Africa.

Last year United States scientists reported the discovery of a jawbone in Israel that was the oldest known human remains found outside of Africa.

The group says the finding proves that modern humans left the African continent tens of thousands of years earlier than believed until now, and crossed paths with Neanderthals and other human species.

In the last few years, palaeontologists have discovered modern human fossils from Daoxian and Zhirendong in China dating to between 80,000 and 120,000 years ago.

The results confirmed that Apidima 2 belonged to a Neanderthal who lived about 170,000 years ago. Apidima 1 consists of just the back of the crania, but the team's reconstructions and analyses revealed something surprising: the fossil's features were consistent not with those of Neanderthals, but with those of modern humans.

"It shows that the early dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa not only occurred earlier - before 200,000 years ago - but also reached further geographically, all the way to Europe", said Katerina Harvati, a palaeoanthropologist at the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen, in Germany.

Recent studies of early human remains have been found in the far reaches of Asia dating back further than 60,000 years. But the reconstructed Apidima 1, the team found, has features consistent with Homo sapiens.

But the latest findings, in no way, can exclude the possibility that H. sapiens and Neanderthals coexisted in southeastern Europe more than 2 lakh years ago and occasionally interbred also.

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