A jawbone fossil discovered in the Misliya Cave, Israel, has been dated 200,000 years old after 15 years of thorough research.
The discovery is very important as it might force scientists to rewrite the timeline of the modern human evolution. Until now, it was believed that modern man has started migration outside Africa with between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago. But, as the scientists dated the jawbone fossil with around 200,000 years ago, new theories start to emerge.
“This would be the earliest modern human anyone has found outside of Africa, ever,” explained John Hawks, a paleontologist at the University of Wisconsin.
However, the founders of the jawbone fossil declared that it wouldn’t be surprising that, in the near future, an even older fossil of a modern human will be found in Eurasia.
The jawbone fossil was discovered by a team led by Israel Hershkovitz, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Tel Aviv, back in 2002. Scientists have already known that the area of Misliya Cave was ‘crawling’ of prehistoric humans but they’ve never expected to find the proof that a modern man was living in that area with 200,000 years ago.
Researchers believe that the Mount Carmel area, where the Misliya Cave is situated, was occupied by humans during the Early Middle Paleolithic. Paleontologists found pieces of evidence that show that the area was used as a base camp and the prehistoric people hunted aurochs, gazelles, and deer, and used to feast with ostrich eggs, turtles, and rabbits.
A 3D model of the jawbone fossil was created using a powerful, hi-res CT-scanner, and then was compared with more than 30 models of previously discovered fossils of Neanderthals, Homo Erectus, and Homo Sapiens. Scientists then concluded that the jawbone fossil found in Misliya Cave showed a very modern structure of the maxilla and the premolars.
The jawbone fossil of 200,000 years old found in Israel forces scientists to revise the actual theories and to push back the emergence of modern humans with several hundred of thousands of years and the migration period with more than 50,000 years.