Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Science | By

'Oldest remains' outside Africa reset human migration clock

'Oldest remains' outside Africa reset human migration clock

Prof Harvati said: "It's at least 210,000 years old - predating the previously reported oldest H. sapiens in Europe by more than 150,000 years".

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. Apidima 2 was a largely complete skull with a clear face, but had been heavily distorted during the fossilization process. The first, known as Apidima 1, comprised half of the rear of a skull case. "We hypothesize that, as in the Near East, the early modern human population represented by Apidima 1 was probably replaced by Neanderthals, whose presence in southern Greece is well documented, including by the Apidima 2 skull from the same site".

Assigning an age for the specimens also proved challenging, according to Katerina Harvati, the lead author of the new study.

Two fossilized skulls found in the cave Apidemo in the South in the 1970-ies. However, there were no other identifiable animal remains or stone tools that Harvati's team could use to double-check those dating estimates.

A team of researchers from Greece, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom has used modern dating and imaging techniques to figure out how they belonged to and how long they've been sitting there.

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

Apidima 1, however, has features that distinguish it as a modern human.

The bones were incomplete and may have been mixed by mudflow, the study said.

"It's a wonder of nature that you find the two together", he said.

Havarti thinks this part of Eurasia might have served as a refuge for animals and human populations during that period, since the mild coastal climate was a preferable alternative to other parts of Europe.

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

The incomplete nature of the Apidima 1 skull may leave some experts uncertain about its true origin, wrote Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist from City University of NY, in a commentary that accompanied the study. So the individual that left behind the Apidima 1 skull fragment seems to have been part of a population that couldn't successfully compete.

Remains in Greece, was 16 thousand years older than was found in Israel in 2018.

However, our modern human ancestors did eventually migrate successfully out of Africa and replaced Neanderthals across Europe between 45,000 to 35,000 years ago.

The sensational discovery provides to proof of an earlier migration of people from Africa that left no price within the DNA of people alive this present day. Experts contacted by the Guardian doubted whether the skull really belonged to a modern human, and had concerns about the dating procedure. "Rather, we revealed a mixture of modern human and primitive features, indicating an early Homo sapiens".

NEW YORK | Scientists say they've identified the earliest sign of our species outside Africa, a chunk of skull recovered from a cave in southern Greece.

Both were initially identified as Neanderthals and, as uncontroversial specimens, disappeared into the general table of fossils from humans and their closest extinct relatives (hominins).

The new data from Apidima further extends this complex picture of modern human dispersal and interaction with other hominin species .

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