DIVERSITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN A STRENGTH, GOY
A jawbone found in Israel’s Mount Carmel region has reset the clock on human evolution. The fossil, the earliest known record of Homo sapiens outside of Africa, was discovered during an excavation of the Misliya Cave. The unique remains of an adult upper jawbone, complete with several teeth, has been dated to 170,000-200,000 years ago. The earliest record of migration outside of Africa was dated to around 90,000-120,000 years ago, through fossils discovered at digs in Israel’s Skhul and Qafzeh caves almost 90 years ago. With this Misliya cave jawbone, however, the history of human evolution is being rewritten. Based on fossils found in Ethiopia, for the past 50 years scientists have believed that modern humans appeared in Africa, the “cradle of humanity,” roughly 160,000-200,000 years ago. “The entire narrative of the evolution of Homo sapiens must be pushed back by at least 100,000-200,000 years,” said Hershkovitz.
The Misliya fossil not only resets the date for Homo sapien evolution and migration, but also spurs the mind-blowing implication that modern humanity did not evolve independently but rather alongside — and intermingled with — many other hominin groups, such as Neanderthals, he said. “It implies that our species didn’t evolve in isolation… The species was involved with a very long interaction with other groups.” “Our species,” said Hershkovitz, “is a genetic mishmash of several hominins.” Archaeological findings from the cave support this “mishmash” theory by providing an even earlier sedimentary-layered context for modern human settlement — by about 50,000 years. Therefore, modern human settlement in Israel could arguably be dated to even 250,000 years ago (There is no way to ascertain the gender of the fossil.)
Speaking with The Times of Israel just hours after the press announcement of the revolutionary find, Weinstein-Evron reminisced that when she and Hershkovitz first drew up plans ahead of commencing the joint dig, their stated (modest) goal was to look for the origins of the modern Homo sapiens. With the discovery in the Mount Carmel region, which is rife with indications of paleolithic settlement, she said, “we have found something even more surprising.” In addition to the genetic analysis of the bone, archaeological findings confirmed that Homo sapiens “lived in parallel with other types of humans a lot longer than thought,” she said. Fossil records have indicated that Homo sapiens are a very diverse group. Now, she said, it is much more likely that the species is made up of a mix of hominin groups.