Ancient skull found in Israel may be from Africa Dr. Omry Barzilai of Israel's Antiquities Authority holds an ancient skull found inside a cave near the Israeli northern city of Nahariya (AP photos)
Ancient skull found in Israel may be from Africa

Long ago, humans left their evolutionary cradle in Africa and passed through the Middle East on their way to Europe. Now, scientists have found the first fossil remains that appear to document that journey, a partial skull from an Israeli cave.

The skull dates from around 55,000 years ago, fitting into the period when scientists had thought the migrants inhabited the area. And details of its anatomy resemble ancient skulls from Europe, Israel Hershkovitz, of Tel Aviv University in Israel, wrote in an email.

He and others present the finding in a paper released by the journal Nature. The skull, which lacks facial features and its base, was found in Manot Cave in the Galilee region of northern Israel.

The migrants are called modern humans because of their anatomy. The earliest remains of modern humans in Europe date to about 45,000 years ago.

Experts not connected with the work were impressed.

"This is the first evidence we have of the humans who made this journey," apart from some ancient tools, said Eric Delson of Lehman College and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Although finding a fossil that fits so well with what was believed about the ancient migration might be expected, "We didn't have it before," he said.

"We could predict theoretically what we would find. They've found it. ... Up until now, that was a ghost."

Katerina Harvati of the University of Tuebingin in Germany said the skull gives clues about the anatomy of the migrants. Since Neanderthals were already known to inhabit the area, the skull also documents that they and modern humans co-existed there, as suspected, Harvati said.

That supports the idea that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred there, experts said. Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London wrote in an email that the skull is the first fossil of a modern human from western Asia that is well-dated to the estimated time of the interbreeding, some 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

Critical thinking challenge: Why were experts not connected with the work impressed?

Assigned 12 times

  • AlvaroR-Kan
    2/10/2015 - 11:25 a.m.

    I believe that the experts were not impressed by the work that they found is because it isn't that old like other fossils that they have found and they see it as another fossil just sitting there. But non expert people find this amusing because they don't know how a fossil works.

  • pp2000boa
    2/10/2015 - 01:34 p.m.

    I wonder, if humans evolved in Africa, what changed their complexion? How many years does it take to evolve differently, especially after moving to a new habitat?

  • sebastiant-DiB
    2/12/2015 - 10:46 a.m.

    It talk of a skull found somewhere in the middle east that has propose to has to be from Africa by the texture and the sediment that its tell on how it was found.

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    2/12/2015 - 01:10 p.m.

    Any ties to the past like fossils like this always lead to amazing discoveries, i'm hoping that the scietific community will benefit from this find.

  • LukeMM-5
    2/12/2015 - 08:23 p.m.

    This article is about an ancient human scull from 55,000years ago. Scientists believe the person died in a journey from Africa to the euraisan continent

  • 9RyanS
    2/15/2015 - 05:04 p.m.

    Date: February 10, 2015
    Date Accessed: February 15, 2015
    Response type: 5Ws
    Article title: Ancient skull found is Israel may be from Africa

    Long ago humans left Africa and passed through the middle east on their way to Europe. Scientists have found a partial skull from an Israel cave. The skull is over 55,000 years old. The skull was found in Manot cave in the Galilee region of northern israel. This partial skull is from a modern human from western Asia. The significance of this is that this is the first evidence of humans that made that journey that far.

  • 3KatherineM
    2/17/2015 - 06:28 p.m.

    This article can very easily be related to history. The main reason for this is that the skull that was found in the cave in Israel lets us look back into the future. This skull is the oldest found in the area resembling modern human anatomy. This lets the scientists get a better understanding on the time period that people from Europe came to the area of Israel. Though scientists had always predicted that this was around the time that the people came to this area they know have secure data and artifacts. This skull lets everyone have a better understanding of the past and gives us ideas on why people were migrating and when they came to Israel.

  • Js2001ege
    2/18/2015 - 08:45 a.m.

    "This is the first evidence we have of the humans who made this journey," apart from some ancient tools, said Eric Delson of Lehman College and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
    Scientist were not connected to the work because that was the first type of evidence from that type of human that made that journey

  • CharismaM
    2/22/2015 - 08:40 p.m.

    Fossils are parts of the past and can give us a lot of new information that we don't know about our history. I hope they can find out new information and that they continue to find fossils and other artifacts.

  • donovanh-Che
    3/18/2015 - 11:59 a.m.

    I wonder what species of the Homo genus it is. Based on the dating I would doubt it is h. Erectus. It definitely wasn't in the Austropithecina group as that group diverged and went extinct before that. It could likely be the journey of H. Habilis out of Africa to the Eurasian continent (the survivors of the journey evolved into H. Antecessor).

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