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

The skull dates from around 55,000 years ago. It fits 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 lacks facial features and its base. It 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. He is with Lehman College and the AmericanMuseum 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."

Katerina Harvati of the University of Tuebingin in Germany said the skull gives clues about the anatomy of the migrants. Neanderthals were already known to inhabit the area. The newly found 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 is with the Natural History Museum in London. He 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. That was some 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

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

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COMMENTS (33)
  • JM2001april
    2/10/2015 - 10:22 a.m.

    Experts committed to this work only had human remains dated back to 45,000 years and the new ones were 50,000 years and they were impressed by the new discoveries.

    • CC-Rei
      2/10/2015 - 04:19 p.m.

      I think that the modern technology we have now helps us to find these kind of things and to study them better.we also have become so intelligent with these things is that it is amazing what we can discover all the time.

  • kimj-boo
    2/10/2015 - 11:22 a.m.

    Experts not connected with the work are impressed because it was the first evidence they of humans making the journey when they walked from Africa to the Middle East on their way to Europe.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    2/10/2015 - 01:23 p.m.

    I think This is so cool! I wish there was a way we could be sure of how it moved. I wonder when it was found.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    2/10/2015 - 01:24 p.m.

    This is so cool! I wish there was a way to be sure of how it moved from one place to another! I wonder when the fossil was found in the first palce

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/10/2015 - 07:19 p.m.

    I think the picture next to the first paragraph doesn't look like a skull of a human but it is part of the human fossil skull but it doesn't really look like an actual skull because it is just the piece of it that just broke off while an early human stayed in the cave until it passes away. Well if scientist think that it is a skull of an early human, they should have thought that it was just a part of the skull

  • ScarlettR-1
    2/10/2015 - 07:25 p.m.

    I read the article "Ancient Skull Found in Israel May Be From Africa". This article is about how scientists found a skull from an Israeli cave. Long ago when humans left Africa and passed through the Middle East and scientists think that the skull was from on the way to that journey. This might be the first evidence from that journey. This skull lacks its base and facial features. This is really cool. I wonder how its facial features and base got missing.

  • KathyM122
    2/11/2015 - 02:49 p.m.

    Yes! More fossils they can finally unlock more things about history. This will unlock another fantastic journey about migrants. Now our generation's kid's can have more things to learn about.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    2/11/2015 - 09:44 p.m.

    I think this is cool because the scientists found a partial skull in Israel that was originated in Africa. This is evidence that Neanderthals or whatever "human" species that lived at the time moved around. They knew how to move around and travel and such. I think human species were actually smarter than I thought they were. I wonder if the ancient humans knew where they were going.
    Critical thinking challenge: Why were experts not connected with the work impressed?
    Answer: Experts that were not connected with the work impressed because they saw a skull that they never saw before.

  • eugenef-DiB
    2/12/2015 - 01:50 p.m.

    this is a good source that y'all have found it just open up more doors for knowing new thing about our history great job scientists

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