Oldest human fossil found outside Africa: Details revealed

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Earliest human fossil discovered
Earliest human fossil discovered

New Delhi : Researchers have found earliest modern human fossil outside the continent of Africa. The evidences date back to the period when our ancestors left Africa. 

The discovered fossil an upper left jawbone with most of the teeth attached comes from Misliya Cave in Israel and dates to 177,000-194,000 years ago.  This is considerably older than any other remains from our own species, Homo sapiens, ever discovered outside of Africa. The finding coincides with recent studies that are changing the view on our evolutionary origins and migration throughout the Old World.

The earliest humans, hominins, lived around six to seven million years ago in Africa. These early evolutionary ancestors are recognized as belonging to the human family mainly because their bones indicate signs of bipedalism. 

For quite some time, anthropologists believe that Homo sapiens first appeared around 200,000 years ago, in Africa. This was based on findings from genetic studies as well as fossil discoveries.

Two sites in Ethiopia, Herto and Omo Kibish, have resulted early Homo sapiens fossils dated to between 160,000-195,000 years ago.

However in June of 2017, researchers dated fossils from the site of Jebel Irhoud in Morocco to around 315,000 years ago and attributed them to an early phase of Homo sapiens evolution. This unexpectedly early date pushed back the origin of our species by over 100,000 years.

Until recently, the earliest human fossils from our own species discovered outside of Africa dated to around 90,000 to 120,000 years ago. Two cave sites in Israel, Qafzeh and Skhul have yielded numerous skeletons of early modern humans. The age of these sites would suggest that our species was restricted to Africa for as long as 200,000 years before migrating out of the continent.

Other sites with Homo sapiens fossils from Asia and Europe are generally younger than the finds from the Middle East.

To establish the jawbone’s age more precisely, several independent dating techniques were applied to the fossil itself as well as the stone tools and sediments at the site. The results came back with ages that ranged between 177,000 and 194,000 years ago.