Israeli researchers have found the bone remains of a prehistoric human species, hitherto unknown to science, providing new insights into the course of human evolution.
Archaeological excavations near the city of Ramle, led by a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have revealed prehistoric remains incompatible with any known species of man, including modern humans (Homo sapiens), AFP reported.
In a study published in the journal Science, anthropologists and archaeologists from Tel Aviv University, led by Yossi Zeidner, named the place the remains were found “Nesher Ramla.”
In a statement, the researchers said the skeleton dates from 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and shares common features with Neanderthals and other types of ancient humans.
“At the same time, this type of human is very different from modern humans, with a completely different skull structure, without a chin and very large teeth,” they said.
Agence France-Presse added that in addition to human remains, the excavations found a large number of animal bones and stone tools.
“Archaeological findings associated with human fossils show that Homo Nesher Ramlet had advanced techniques for producing stone tools, and may have interacted with Homo sapiens,” Zeidner said.
“We never imagined that with Homo sapiens, ancient hominids would chase the Earth at such an advanced stage in human history,” he added.
The researchers suggested that some of the fossils previously found in Israel, dating back 400,000 years, could belong to the same type of prehistoric humans.
The discovery of Nesher Ramla casts doubt on the theory that Neanderthals first appeared in Europe before migrating south, according to AFP.
“Our results suggest that the famous Western European Neanderthals are the only remains of a much larger population that lived here in the Levant, not the other way around,” said anthropologist Israel Hershkowitz of Tel Aviv University.
Rachel Sarrig, a dentist and anthropologist at Tel Aviv University, said the findings suggest that “as a crossroads between Africa, Europe and Asia, the Land of Israel was a melting pot of different human groups with each other, then spread throughout the ancient world.”