by Lil Joe
AP - Professor Avi Gopher from the Institute of Archeology of Tel Aviv
University holds an ancient tooth that ... He stressed that further
research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does, he says, "this
changes the whole picture of evolution." ...
The accepted scientific theory is that Homo sapiens originated in
Africa and migrated out of the continent. Gopher said if the remains
are definitively linked to modern human's ancestors, it could mean
that modern man in fact originated in what is now Israel.
"There are a lot of possibilities," Avi Gopher, a professor of archaeology
at Tel Aviv University who co-directed the excavations where the teeth were
discovered, said today in a telephone interview. While one alternative would
be to modify the theory that Homo sapiens developed first in Africa and then
migrated throughout the world, Gopher said, "We must be cautious; you don't
throw out a paradigm just because of a few teeth." Avi Gopher
Lil Joe's Response:
Evolution is a Fact and a Theory
by Laurence Moran
Copyright © 1993-2002
When non-biologists talk about biological evolution they often confuse
two different aspects of the definition. On the one hand there is the
question of whether or not modern organisms have evolved from older
ancestral organisms or whether modern species are continuing to change
over time. On the other hand there are questions about the mechanism
of the observed changes... how did evolution occur?
Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a
fact. It can be demonstrated today and the historical evidence for its
occurrence in the past is overwhelming. However, biologists readily
admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution;
there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution. Stephen J.
Gould has put this as well as anyone else:
In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect
fact"--part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to
theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist
argument: evolution is "only" a theory and intense debate now rages
about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact,
and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then
what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed
this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in
what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): "Well, it is a theory. It
is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been
challenged in the world of science--that is, not believed in the
scientific community to be as infallible as it once was."
Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories
are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing
certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of
ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when
scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of
gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't
suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved
from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed
mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.
The issue presented by the Israeli 'research team' is not the issue of
whether or how evolution of homo sapiens sapiens ['modern man']
evolved, but of when and 'where' it occured. What is meant by 'the
earliest human ancestors to modern man', is predicated upon the
distinction that Hominidae seperated from the other branches of
The scientific debate regarding the earliest hominin or hominid is
argued on the basis of antecedent fossil data and DNA that points to
the hominin or hominid divergence from the common ancestor of humans,
Chimpanzee and Bonobo.
Where is the corroborative data as evidence of the existence of
evolutionary diversification of Hominoidea into Hominidae? There is no
corroborative data to support the claim that it was in Israel that
hominins diverged from Chimpanzee and Bonobos.
"The field of science which studies the human fossil record is known
as paleoanthropology. It is the intersection of the disciplines of
paleontology (the study of ancient lifeforms) and anthropology (the
study of humans). ...
"Hominids are included in the superfamily of all apes, the Hominoidea,
the members of which are called hominoids. Although the hominid fossil
record is far from complete, and the evidence is often fragmentary,
there is enough to give a good outline of the evolutionary history of
"The time of the split between humans and living apes used to be
thought to have occurred 15 to 20 million years ago, or even up to 30
or 40 million years ago. Some apes occurring within that time period,
such as Ramapithecus, used to be considered as hominids, and possible
ancestors of humans. Later fossil finds indicated that Ramapithecus
was more closely related to the orang-utan, and new biochemical
evidence indicated that the last common ancestor of hominids and apes
occurred between 5 and 10 million years ago, and probably in the lower
end of that range (Lewin 1987). Ramapithecus therefore is no longer
considered a hominid.
"The species here are listed roughly in order of appearance in the
fossil record (note that this ordering is not meant to represent an
evolutionary sequence), except that the robust australopithecines are
kept together. Each name consists of a genus name (e.g.
Australopithecus, Homo) which is always capitalized, and a specific
name (e.g. africanus, erectus) which is always in lower case. (Read
more @ http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/species.html )
A fully developed homo sapien could not have just spontaneously
appeared in Israel, like Athena from the head of Zeus. Where are the
fossils of earlier hominins or hominid fossils found in Israel of
species there millions of years prior to 400,000 YA?
The claim that hominids split from the common ancestor we have with
Bonobo and Chimpanzee cannot be 'declared' solely on the basis of the
discovery of eight teeth 'found' in a cave in Israel. There must be
antecedent fossils in Isreal that documents these transitions from the
common ancestor to hominids and man.
Were the homo sapiens sapiens of hominids to have diverged from other
species in Israel, to have evolved there there has to be a record of
paleontological fossil remains in Israel, just as are those in Africa
that corroborate the 'out of Africa' explanation.
The case for the out of Africa theory is based on the evidence of
antecedent hominin species in Africa e.g. the Ramapithecines,
Dryopithecines, Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecines, Orrorin
tugenensis, Sivapithecus, Gigantopithecus, Homo erectus, Homo habilis
and other recorded fossil evidence. There must also exist such fossil
data of progression in Israel to refute not just the 'theory', but
also that answer the data found in Africa. It is the fossil record in
Africa that proves it was there that Hominidae seperated from the
other branches of Hominoidea at that time and in that area.
A Dictionary of Zoology | 1999 | MICHAEL ALLABY | © A Dictionary of
Zoology 1999, originally published by Oxford University Press 1999.
(Hide copyright information) Copyright
Hominoidea (order Primates, suborder Simiiformes) A superfamily that
comprises the Hylobatidae (gibbons), Pongidae (great apes), and
Hominidae (humans). The latter two families are believed to be
descended from a common stock of 'great apes' which diverged to form
distinct Asian and African lines, the African line dividing again 4-6
million years ago into the African apes and the hominids. An
increasing number of authorities hold that the hominids and African
apes should be grouped together and the orang-utan separately; or
else, that all great apes should be included in the Hominidae. The
hominoids lack tails and cheek pouches; have catarrhine nostrils and
opposable thumbs (reduced in some species); and differ from the
Cercopithecidae in having less specialized dentition, a vermiform
appendix in the gut, and larger heads, longer limbs, and wider chests,
which some authorities believe they inherited from ancestral
brachiating forms. Today only the Hylobatidae are specialized
brachiators. Read on:
Infraorder Catarrhine: Superfamily Hominoidea
List of Families:
a. Hylobates syndactylus, H. concolor, H. hoolock, H. klossii,
H. lar, H. agilis, H. pileatus, H. moloch, and H. muelleri
(Orangutans, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Gorillas)
a. Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus and P. pygmaeus abelli
b. Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii, P. troglodytes troglodytes,
P.trogloydytes verus, and P. paniscus
c. Gorilla gorilla gorilla, G. gorilla beringei, and G. gorilla graueri
a. Homo sapiens
The issue of human origins accept the data and findings that humans
are presently the only living species of homindae, but this is even
being challenged by recent data.
Chimps Belong on Human Branch of Family Tree, Study Says
John Pickrell in England
for National Geographic News
May 20, 2003
A new report argues that chimpanzees are so closely related to humans
that they should be included in our branch of the tree of life.
Chimpanzees and other apes have historically been separated from
humans in classification schemes, with humans deemed the only living
members of the hominid family of species.
Now, biologists at Wayne State University School of Medicine in
Detroit, Michigan, provide new genetic evidence that lineages of
chimps (currently Pan troglodytes) and humans (Homo sapiens) diverged
so recently that chimps should be reclassed as Homo troglodytes. The
move would make chimps full members of our genus Homo, along with
Neandertals, and all other human-like fossil species. "We humans
appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-like apes," says the
"The loss of the [wild] chimp and gorilla seems imminent," said Morris
Goodman, a study co-author. "Moving chimps into the human genus might
help us to realize our very great likeness, and therefore treasure
more and treat humanely our closest relative," he said.
However, experts say many scientists are likely to resist the
reclassification, especially in the emotionally-charged and often
disputed field of anthropology.
Knowing Me, Knowing You
The term genus describes a very closely related group of similar
species, thought to have diverged from one another relatively
recently, and is the first grouping above the species level. Common
chimpanzees and bonobos have until now been classified into their own
Historical classification schemes, based on physical similarities such
as bones, argued that chimps and gorillas were each other's closest
relatives, and that both were closely related to orangutans to the
exclusion of humans.
However, with the advent of molecular techniques to compare
similarities in our DNA starting in the 1960s, most experts have come
to accept the fact that humans and chimps are most closely related.
Studies indicate that humans and chimps are between 95 and 98.5
percent genetically identical.
Derek E. Wildman, Goodman, and other co-authors at Wayne State argue
in their new study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, that given the evidence, it's somewhat
surprising that humans and chimps are still classified into different
genera. Other mammalian genera often contain groups of species that
diverged much earlier than chimps and humans did, said Goodman. "To be
consistent, we need to revise our definition of the human branch of
the tree of life," he said.
Be that as it may, the accepted standard model is that homonins seperated from
Chimpanzee and Bonobo, which are our closest living relatives, having
99% the same DNA:
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Human - Chimpanzee split occured 5-7 million years ago
Finding- New research indicates that the split between chimpanzees and
humans occured 5 to 7 million years ago. This improves the time
differential which previously had a 10 million year range 3-13 million
years. Now the differential is 2 million years.
How it was done:
Scientists analyzed the largest data set yet of genes that code for
proteins and also used an improved computational approach that they
developed, which takes into account more of the variability -- or
statistical error--in the data than any other previous study. Gene
studies are needed to address this problem because the interpretation
of the earliest fossils of humans at the ape/human boundary are
controversial and because almost no fossils of chimpanzees have been
The science team examined 167 different gene sequence sets from
humans, chimpanzees, macaques, and mice.
No previous study has taken into account all of the error involved in
estimating time with the molecular-clock method. The new statistical
technique is a multifactor bootstrap-resampling approach.
The scientists estimated the time of divergence between species by
studying the sequential arrangement of nucleotides that make up the
chain-like DNA molecules of each species. The number of mutations in
the DNA sequence of a species, compared with other species, is a gauge
of its rate of evolutionary change.
Calibration - rate of one species with that of another species
The minimum time of divergence
By calibrating this rate with the known time of divergence of a
species on another branch of the tree-like diagram that shows
relationships among species, scientists can estimate the time when the
species they are studying evolved. In this case, the calibration time
the scientists used was the split of Old World monkeys -- including
baboons, macaques, and others -- from the branch of the phylogenetic
tree that led to humans and apes, which fossil studies have shown is
at least 24 million years ago. Using this calibration time, the team
estimated that the human-chimp divergence occurred at least 5 million
years ago, proportionally about one-fifth of the calibration time.
Other supporting evidence
The maximum time of divergence
This time is consistent with the findings of several research groups
that have used the molecular-clock method to estimate the split of
humans and chimpanzees since the first attempt in 1967. But this is
only a minimum estimate, because it was based on a minimum calibration
time. To obtain a maximum limit on the human-chimp divergence, the
team used as a calibration point the maximum estimate, based on fossil
studies, of the divergence of Old-World monkeys and the branch leading
to humans -- 35 million years ago. Calculations using this date
yielded a time for the human-chimp split of approximately 7 million
years ago, which again was proportionally about one-fifth of the
What else can be gathered from knowing the origin of the divergence?
Besides knowing when we divereged, a fact worth knowing, this
divergence time also has considerable importance because it is used to
establish how fast genes mutate in humans and to date the historical
spread of our species around the globe.
Knowing the timescale of human evolution, and how we changed through
time in relation to our environment, could provide valuable clues for
understanding the evolution of intelligent life.
This research does not pinpoint the precise time of the split, it
tells us that proportional differences on branches in family trees
should be considered when proposing new times. For example, we now
know that a 10-to-12-million-year human-chimp split would infer a
divergence of Old World monkeys from our lineage that is too old
(50-to-60-million years ago) to reconcile with the current fossil
record of primates.
What then is the next step?
Although some additional improvement is possible by including more
genes and more species, the greatest opportunity now for further
narrowing this estimate of 5-to-7-million years will be the discovery
of new fossils and the improvement in geologic dating of existing
fossils. http://scienceandevolution.blogspot.com/2007/09/human- chimpanzee-split-occured-5-7.html
"Finding out about our most recent common ancestor relies solely on
inferences from the mtDNA of people living today."
The supposed 'finding' of a single fossil of a homo sapien in Israel
by a politically motivated Israeli Zionist is very self serving
because it is politically used to promote the myth of the Hebrew
Scripture of 'creation' of man as opposed to evolution, that the first
man was a "Jew" and is and suspicious.
"The word 'pseudo' is a Greek word meaning false apparent or supposed
but not real. When prefixed to the word archaeology the term
pseudoarchaeology simply means false archaeology.
"It can be false for a number of reasons. Firstly, the archaeological
methodology may not be undertaken using accepted scientific methods.
Secondly, the interpretation of the data or the material remains
excavated may not be consistent with the usual practices of analysis.
Thirdly, the artefacts 'discovered' could be fakes or the entire
archaeological concept could be orchestrated as a hoax.
"Pseudoarchaeology is sometimes called fantastic archaeology but by
whatever name it is given it is best identified as pseudo-science
dressed in archaeological garments. Any archaeological theory,
excavation site, or published results of excavations that do not
conform to accepted archaeological practices generally fall into the
category of pseudoarchaeology.
A frequent motivation to engage in pseudoarchaeology is radical
nationalism. Imperial ideologies of the recent past used the results
of archaeology to advance their empires. (See: http://www.archaeologyexpert.co.uk/PseudoArchaeology.html)
One must remember the Peltdown hoax!
This lesson in the need for skepticism as an essential approach to
scientific matters was learned the hard way, the stinging rebuke of
jumping to conclusions and hasty generalizations that were more
subjective in confirming a prejudice than was objectivity of empirical
method and subjugation of a 'discovery' to skepticism and rigorous
peer review, as was in the case of the 'Piltdown Man":
"The "Piltdown Man" is a famous anthropological hoax concerning the
finding of the remains of a previously unknown early human. The hoax
find consisted of fragments of a skull and jawbone collected in 1912
from a gravel pit at Piltdown, a village near Uckfield, East Sussex,
England. The fragments were thought by many experts of the day to be
the fossilised remains of a hitherto unknown form of early man. The
Latin name Eoanthropus dawsoni ("Dawson's dawn-man", after the
collector Charles Dawson) was given to the specimen. The significance
of the specimen remained the subject of controversy until it was
exposed in 1953 as a forgery, consisting of the lower jawbone of an
orangutan that had been deliberately combined with the skull of a
fully developed modern human.
"The Piltdown hoax is perhaps the most famous paleontological hoax
ever. It has been prominent for two reasons: the attention paid to the
issue of human evolution, and the length of time (more than 40 years)
that elapsed from its discovery to its full exposure as a forgery.
"The finding of the Piltdown skull was poorly documented, but at a
meeting of the Geological Society of London held on December
18, 1912, Charles Dawson claimed to have been given a fragment
of the skull four years earlier by a workman at the Piltdown gravel pit.
According to Dawson, workmen at the site had discovered the skull
shortly before his visit and had broken it up. Revisiting the site on several
occasions, Dawson found further fragments of the skull and took them
to Arthur Smith Woodward, keeper of the geological department at the
British Museum. Greatly interested by the finds, Woodward accompanied
Dawson to the site, where between June and September 1912 they
together recovered more fragments of the skull and half of the lower
Piltdown Man skull
At the same meeting, Woodward announced that a
reconstruction of the fragments had been prepared that indicated that
the skull was in many ways similar to that of modern man, except for
the occiput (the part of the skull that sits on the spinal column) and
for brain size, which was about two-thirds that of modern man. He then
went on to indicate that save for the presence of two human-like molar
teeth the jaw bone found would be indistinguishable from that of a
modern, young chimpanzee. From the British Museum's reconstruction of
the skull, Woodward proposed that Piltdown man represented an
evolutionary missing link between ape and man, since the combination
of a human-like cranium with an ape-like jaw tended to support the
notion then prevailing in England that human evolution began with the
Almost from the outset, Woodward's reconstruction of the Piltdown
fragments was strongly challenged. At the Royal College of Surgeons
copies of the same fragments used by the British Museum in their
reconstruction were used to produce an entirely different model, one
that in brain size and other features resembled modern man. This
reconstruction, by Prof. Arthur Keith (later Sir), was called Homo
piltdownensis in reflection of its more human appearance.
As early as 1915, French paleontologist Marcellin Boule concluded the
jaw was from an ape. Similarly, American zoologist Gerrit Smith Miller
concluded Piltdown's jaw came from a fossil ape. In 1923, Franz
Weidenreich examined the remains and correctly reported that they
consisted of a modern human cranium and an orangutan jaw with
filed-down teeth. Weidenreich, being an anatomist, had easily exposed
the hoax for what it was. However, it took thirty years for the
scientific community to concede that Weidenreich was correct.
In 1915, Dawson claimed to have found fragments of a second skull
(Piltdown II) at a site about two miles away from the original finds.
So far as is known the site has never been identified and the finds
appear to be entirely undocumented. Woodward does not appear ever to
have visited the site.
From the outset, there were scientists who expressed skepticism about
the Piltdown find. G.S. Miller, for example, observed in 1915 that
"deliberate malice could hardly have been more successful than the
hazards of deposition in so breaking the fossils as to give free scope
to individual judgment in fitting the parts together." In the decades
prior to its exposure as a forgery in 1953, scientists increasingly
regarded Piltdown as an enigmatic aberration inconsistent with the
path of hominid evolution as demonstrated by fossils found elsewhere.
Skeptical scientists only increased in number as more fossils were
In November 1953, Time published evidence gathered variously by
Kenneth Page Oakley, Sir Wilfrid Edward Le Gros Clark and Joseph
Weiner proving that the Piltdown Man was a forgery and demonstrating
that the fossil was a composite of three distinct species. It
consisted of a human skull of medieval age, the 500-year-old lower jaw
of a Sarawak orangutan and chimpanzee fossil teeth. The appearance of
age had been created by staining the bones with an iron solution and
chromic acid. Microscopic examination revealed file-marks on the
teeth, and it was deduced from this that someone had modified the
teeth to give them a shape more suited to a human diet.
The Piltdown man hoax had succeeded so well because, at the time of
its discovery, the scientific establishment had believed that the
large modern brain had preceded the modern omnivorous diet, and the
forgery had provided exactly that evidence. It has also been thought
that nationalism and cultural prejudice also played a role in the
less-than-critical acceptance of the fossil as genuine by some British
scientists. It satisfied European expectations that the earliest
humans would be found in Eurasia, and the British, it has been
claimed, also wanted a first Briton to set against fossil hominids
found elsewhere in Europe, including France and Germany.
Identity of the forger
The identity of the Piltdown forger remains unknown, but suspects have
included Dawson, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Arthur Keith, Martin A.
C. Hinton, Horace de Vere Cole and Arthur Conan Doyle as well as
Teilhard had traveled to regions of Africa where one of the anomalous
finds originated, and was residing in the Wealden area from the date
of the earliest finds. Hinton left a trunk in storage at the Natural
History Museum in London that in 1970 was found to contain animal
bones and teeth carved and stained in a manner similar to the carving
and staining on the Piltdown finds. Phillip Tobias implicated Arthur
Keith by detailing the history of the investigation of the hoax,
dismissing other theories, and listing inconsistencies in Keith's
statements and actions. Other investigations suggest the hoax involved
accomplices rather than a single forger.
The focus on Charles Dawson as the main forger is supported by the
accumulation of evidence regarding other archaeological hoaxes he
perpetrated in the decade or two prior to the Piltdown discovery.
Archaeologist Miles Russell of Bournemouth University analyzed
Dawson's antiquarian collection and determined at least 38 were fakes.
Among these were the teeth of a reptile/mammal hybrid, Plagiaulax
dawsoni, "found" in 1895 (and whose teeth had been filed down in the
same way that the teeth of Piltdown man would be some 20 years later),
the so-called "shadow figures" on the walls of Hastings Castle, a
unique hafted stone axe, the Bexhill boat (a hybrid sea faring
vessel), the Pevensey bricks (allegedly the latest datable "finds"
from Roman Britain), the contents of the Lavant Caves (a fraudulent
"flint mine"), the Beauport Park "Roman" statuette (a hybrid iron
object), the Bulverhythe Hammer (shaped with an iron knife in the same
way as Piltdown elephant bone implement would later be), a fraudulent
"Chinese" bronze vase, the Brighton "Toad in the Hole" (a toad
entombed within a flint nodule), the English Channel sea serpent, the
Uckfield Horseshoe (another hybrid iron object) and the Lewes Prick
Spur. Of his antiquarian publications, most demonstrate evidence of
plagiarism or at least naive referencing. Russell wrote: "Piltdown was
not a 'one-off' hoax, more the culmination of a life's work."
Dawson's work prior to Piltdown had also been suspect. On one
occasion, a collection of flints he exchanged with another collector,
Hugh Morris, turned out to have been aged with chemicals, a point
Morris noted down at the time and which was later unearthed. There
were also numerous individuals in the Sussex area well-acquainted with
Dawson who long held doubts about Piltdown and of Dawson's role in the
matter, but given the sheer weight of scholarly affirmation regarding
the find few if any were willing to publicly speak out for fear of
being ridiculed for their trouble.
Piltdown Man and early humans
In 1912, the Piltdown man was believed to be the "missing link"
between apes and humans by the majority of the scientific community.
However, over time the Piltdown man lost its validity, as other
discoveries such as Taung Child and Peking Man were found. R.W. Ehrich
and G.M. Henderson note, "To those who are not completely
disillusioned by the work of their predecessors, the disqualification
of the Piltdown skull changes little in the broad evolutionary
pattern. The validity of the specimen has always been questioned."
Eventually, in the 1940s and 1950s, more advanced dating technologies,
such as the fluorine absorption test, scientifically proved that this
skull was actually a fraud.
The Piltdown man fraud had a significant impact on early research on
human evolution. Notably, it led scientists down a blind alley in the
belief that the human brain expanded in size before the jaw adapted to
new types of food. Discoveries of Australopithecine fossils found in
the 1920s in South Africa were ignored owing to Piltdown man, and the
reconstruction of human evolution was thrown off track for decades.
The examination and debate over Piltdown man led to a vast expenditure
of time and effort on the fossil, with an estimated 250+ papers
written on the topic.
The fossil was sufficiently influential for Clarence Darrow to
introduce it as evidence in defense of Scopes during the 1925 Scopes
Monkey Trial. Darrow died in 1938, more than ten years before Piltdown
Man was exposed as a fraud.
The hoax is still cited by creationists in support of their view that
the theory of evolution cannot address the origins of man. Many cite
it as evidence of frequent acceptance in the scientific community of
viewpoints with very little evidence (other fossils cited include
Nebraska Man, Homo rudolfensis, Homo cepranensis, Homo antecessor, the
Gawis cranium and Rhodesian Man). Though it has been pointed out that
it was science and scientists that discovered it was a fraud, albeit
after an extremely long time, the notoriety of the hoax remains strong
and in November 2003, the Natural History Museum in London held an
exhibition to mark the fiftieth anniversary of its exposure.
Early 20th century science
The Piltdown case is a strong example of how racial, nationalist, and
gendered discourses shaped some science at this time, just as it
shaped society more generally. Piltdown's semi-human features were
made sense of by reference to non-White ethnicities who were at that
time considered by many Europeans to be less evolved than
themselves. The influence of nationalism was clear in the
differing interpretations of the find: whilst the majority of British
scientists accepted the discovery as "the Earliest Englishman",
European and American scientists were considerably more skeptical, and
several suggested at the time that the skull and jaw were from two
different creatures and had been accidentally mixed up. Regarding
gender, the find was discussed as a male, despite Woodward suggesting
that the specimen discovered was a female. The only exception to this
was in coverage by the Daily Mail newspaper, which referred to the
discovery as a woman, but only to use it to mock the Suffragette
movement of the time, which the Mail was highly critical of.
Such discourses were not uncommon in the biological sciences, and
persisted up until the middle of the century. The atrocities committed
by Nazi science before and during World War II brought the dangers of
scientific racism to the foreground, and along with changing attitudes
in society more generally, had the effect of largely purging these
practices from science. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_Man
[Also see: Berry Sautman: "Peking Man and the Politics of
Paleoanthropology in China" @ http://www.jstor.org/pss/2659506]
The skepticism I have concerning "Israeli Man" is being asserted as
the earliest homo sapien, is not based on the fact that racists have
siezed upon it because they can't stand the fact that all the
corroborating evidence is that Hominoidea (order Primates, suborder
Simiiformes) A superfamily that comprises the Hylobatidae (gibbons),
Pongidae (great apes), and Hominidae (including Homo Sapiens Sapiens)
evolved in Africa. The racists therefore that their earliest ancestor
was what they today call a "Nigger". (See
By contrast to the sole set of teeth fossil in Israel, that is
asserted to be the original man - without any fossil or archeological
evidence of preceeding and contemporary fossils - there is a ton of
corroborating geological, paleontological, genetic and archeological
evidence that supports the 'out of Africa' theory.
Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories
"Lay people often misinterpret the language used by scientists. And for
that reason, they sometimes draw the wrong conclusions as to what the
scientific terms mean.
"Three such terms that are often used interchangeably are "scientific
law," "hypothesis," and "theory."
"In layman's terms, if something is said to be "just a theory," it
usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even
lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that
something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true.
Here is what each of these terms means to a scientist:
"Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to describe, in
concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted
to be true and universal, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a
single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to
mathematical postulates. They don't really need any complex external
proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they
have always been observed to be true.
"Specifically, scientific laws must be simple, true, universal, and
absolute. They represent the cornerstone of scientific discovery,
because if a law ever did not apply, then all science based upon that
law would collapse.
"Some scientific laws, or laws of nature, include the law of gravity,
Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, Boyle's law of
gases, the law of conservation of mass and energy, and Hook's law of
"Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a
rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what
is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be
supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.
"Theory: A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have
been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a
set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and
verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers.
Unfortunately, even some scientists often use the term "theory" in a
more colloquial sense, when they really mean to say "hypothesis." That
makes its true meaning in science even more confusing to the general
"In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted
to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to
make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.
"In fact, some laws, such as the law of gravity, can also be theories
when taken more generally. The law of gravity is expressed as a single
mathematical expression and is presumed to be true all over the
universe and all through time. Without such an assumption, we can do
no science based on gravity's effects. But from the law, we derived
the theory of gravity which describes how gravity works, what causes
it, and how it behaves. We also use that to develop another theory,
Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, in which gravity plays a
crucial role. The basic law is intact, but the theory expands it to
include various and complex situations involving space and time.
"The biggest difference between a law and a theory is that a theory is
much more complex and dynamic. A law describes a single action,
whereas a theory explains an entire group of related phenomena. And,
whereas a law is a postulate that forms the foundation of the
scientific method, a theory is the end result of that same process.
"Lucy", for instance doesn't stand alone, but along with other fossils
and artifacts of early hominims in East Africa - Chad, Kenya,
Tanzania, Ethiopia and southern Africa- there are corroborating
fossil and archeological evidence in existence, various and sundry
paleontological evidence of both antecedent and contemporary fossils
Discovery of Early Hominins
"The immediate ancestors of humans were members of the genus
Australopithecus. The australopithecines (or australopiths) were
intermediate between apes and people. However, both
australopithecines and humans are biologically similar enough to be
classified as members of the same biological tribe--the Hominini.
All people, past and present, along with the australopithecines are
hominins. We share in common not only the fact that we evolved from
the same ape ancestors in Africa but that both genera are habitually
bipedal, or two-footed, upright walkers. By comparison, chimpanzees,
bonobos, and gorillas are primarily quadrupedal, or four-footed.
"Over the last decade, there have been a number of important fossil
discoveries in Africa of what may be very early transitional hominins,
or proto-hominins. These creatures lived about the time of the
divergence from our common hominid ancestor with chimpanzees and
bonobos, during the late Miocene and early Pliocene Epochs. The
fossils have been tentatively classified as members of three distinct
genera--Sahelanthropus , Orrorin , and Ardipithecus . Sahelanthropus
was the earliest, dating 7-6 million years ago. Orrorin lived about 6
million years ago, while Ardipithecus remains have been dated to
5.8-4.4 million years ago. At present, the vote is still out as to
whether any of these three primates were in fact true hominins and if
they were our ancestors. The classification of Sahelanthropus has
been the most in question.
"The earliest australopithecines very likely did not evolve until 5
million years ago or shortly thereafter (during the beginning of the
Pliocene Epoch) in East Africa. The primate fossil record for this
crucial early transitional period leading to australopithecines is
scanty and somewhat confusing at present. However, by about 4.2
million years ago, unquestionable australopithecines were present. By
3 million years ago, they were common in both East and South Africa.
Some have been found dating to this period in North Central Africa
also. As the australopithecines evolved, they exploited more types of
environments. Their proto-hominin ancestors had been predominantly
tropical forest animals. However, African forests were progressively
giving way to sparse woodlands and grasslands, or savannas. The
australopithecines took advantage of these new conditions. In the
more open environments, bipedalism would very likely have been an
"By 2.5 million years ago, there were at least 2 evolutionary lines of
hominins descended from the early australopithecines. One line
apparently was adapted primarily to lake margin grassland environments
and had an omnivorous diet that increasingly included meat. Among
them were our early human ancestors who started to make stone tools by
this time. The other line seems to have lived more in mixed grassland
and woodland environments, like the earlier australopithecines, and
was primarily vegetarian. This second, more conservative line of
early hominins died out by 1 million years ago or shortly before then.
It is likely that all of the early hominins, including humans,
supplemented their diets with protein and fat rich termites and ants
just as some chimpanzees do today.
Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old fossil, is a key piece in
By TOM PAULSON P-I REPORTER
Some 3 million years or so after her descendants arrived in the
Pacific Northwest, Lucy represents just how far we have come from
those days of wandering the savannas of Africa, scavenging for food,
avoiding predators and awaiting the rapid expansion of a brain that
today allows us to, among other things, ponder our origins.
Lucy, known by Ethiopians as "Dinkenesh" (wonderful one) and by
scientists as an Australopith, is the popular name given to the rare
and highly significant 3.2 million-year-old fossil remains of a female
ancestor of modern humans to be displayed in Seattle at the Pacific
Science Center from Oct. 4 until March 8.
She wasn't human. But she wasn't really an ape, either. She was, for
many, a hint of humankind to come.
"Lucy is simply phenomenal," said Patricia Kramer, an anthropologist
at the University of Washington. "You can see yourself in her."
You can, perhaps, as long as you are among those who can imagine
having evolved along with chimpanzees, gorillas and other primates
from a common -- and now extinct -- ancestor many millions of years
ago. Not everyone can so easily imagine this, of course, whether
because of conflicting religious beliefs or just that vague "sense" we
have of human beings as somehow different, special, compared with the
rest of creation.
However the metaphysical debate of our place in the cosmos may some
day get resolved, there's little debate within the scientific
community today as to the significance of Lucy's role in human
evolution on Earth.
"She occupies a pivotal place on the human family tree," said Donald
Johanson, the American paleoanthropologist who, with his colleagues,
discovered the fossil in 1974 near the northern Ethiopian community of
Hadar. "We now know that one of the first significant things our
ancestors did was to stand up, to walk on two feet instead of four."
Lucy is still one of the most complete fossils from an early group of
hominids (pre-humans) to routinely walk on two feet. This may sound
like no big deal to us 21st century bipeds. But scientists say this
was a key evolutionary adaptation probably caused by climate change,
which forced our ancestors to shift from forest skills to operating on
the savannas. It appears to have triggered other critical changes in
our physique and behavior that led to modern humans.
More on those changes later. First, why is the fossil named Lucy?
"After the discovery, we kept listening to The Beatles' song 'Lucy in
the Sky with Diamonds' in camp and a girlfriend of mine suggested we
call her Lucy," said Johanson, who neglected to mention the
much-documented celebratory partying that also took place that night.
"The name just stuck. I'm amazed at how this helped to make her into
this popular icon for human evolution."
But it wasn't just The Beatles who lent Johanson's discovery such
prominence and recognition.
"Lucy forced us to rewrite much of the science," said Gerry Eck, a
retired UW anthropologist who worked with Johanson in Ethiopia on
expeditions after Lucy was uncovered. "Evolutionary history is
basically a puzzle with a lot of missing pieces. Lucy helped fill in a
big piece of the puzzle."
Technically, Lucy is a fossil member of a class of hominids, or
proto-humans, known as Australopithecus afarensis who lived between
3.9 million and 2.9 million years ago.
Scientists use a lot of confusing Latin names for (and frequently
argue about) labeling members of the human evolutionary family tree.
For simplicity's sake, human evolution can be broken into three phases
-- early and very apelike hominids, Australopiths such as Lucy and our
Lucy and her ilk occupied a critical phase in the evolutionary process
that scientists believe led to a variety of other pre-modern human
species such as Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis (the Neanderthals)
and eventually to us, Homo sapiens.
Australopithecus is Latin for southern ape. Lucy's species name A.
afarensis means she is the southern ape who hails from Afar, the
region in Ethiopia where she was discovered. She stood about 3.5 feet
tall, but still had a very small brain. Back in the 1970s, scientists
were still arguing over what came first in human evolution -- growing
a much bigger brain or moving from four-legged to two-legged walking.
Unlike most such ancient fossils, Lucy was more than just a piece of
skull, femur or jaw. She was 40 percent intact, including much of her
skull and most of her pelvis.
It was her pelvis and leg structure that nailed it: Bipedalism clearly
had preceded the boom in brains.
"There was no question that we were bipedal millions of years before
our brains got big," said the UW's Kramer.
"It was a spectacular find," Eck agreed. This caused a bit of a fuss,
he added, because Johanson was a relative newcomer to the field and,
based on Lucy, was introducing a revolutionary new interpretation of
how we evolved. http://www.seattlepi.com/ae/380502_lucy30.html
There are no sequential fossils in "Israel" to support the claim that
humans seperated from Chimpanzee or Bonobo in "Israel". However, the
out of Africa theory is supported by palentological, but more
importantly by biological or genetic research and its evidence.
Tracing Ancestry with MtDNA
by Rick Groleau
In 1987, three scientists announced in the journal Nature that they
had found a common ancestor to us all, a woman who lived in Africa
200,000 years ago. She was given the name "Eve," which was great for
capturing attention, though somewhat misleading, as the name at once
brought to mind the biblical Eve, and with it the mistaken notion that
the ancestor was the first of our species-the woman from whom all
The "Eve" in question was actually the most recent common ancestor
through matrilineal descent of all humans living today. That is, all
people alive today can trace some of their genetic heritage through
their mothers back to this one woman. The scientists hypothesized this
ancient woman's existence by looking within the cells of living people
and analyzing short loops of genetic code known as mitochondrial DNA,
or mtDNA for short. In recent years, scientists have used mtDNA to
trace the evolution and migration of human species, including when the
common ancestor to modern humans and Neanderthals lived-though there
has been considerable debate over the validity and value of the
In reproduction, the nuclear DNA of one parent mixes with the nuclear
DNA of the other. MtDNA, on the other hand, passes on from mother to
Nuclear DNA vs mitochondrial DNA
When someone mentions human DNA, what do you think of? If you know a
little about the topic, perhaps you think of the 46 chromosomes that
inhabit the nucleus of almost every cell that comprises your body.
These chromosomes hold the vast bulk of genetic information that
you've inherited from your parents.
Outside the nucleus, but still within the cell, lie mitochondria.
Mitochondria are tiny structures that help cells in a number of ways,
including producing the energy that cells need. Each
mitochondrion-there are about 1,700 in every human cell-includes an
identical loop of DNA about 16,000 base pairs long containing 37
genes. In contrast, nuclear DNA consists of three billion base pairs
and an estimated 70,000 genes. (This estimate has been revised upward
several times since the announcement that the human genome had been
decoded, and likely will be again.)
Whenever an egg cell is fertilized, nuclear chromosomes from a sperm
cell enter the egg and combine with the egg's nuclear DNA, producing a
mixture of both parents' genetic code. The mtDNA from the sperm cell,
however, is left behind, outside of the egg cell.
So the fertilized egg contains a mixture of the father and mother's
nuclear DNA and an exact copy of the mother's mtDNA, but none of the
father's mtDNA. The result is that mtDNA is passed on only along the
maternal line. This means that all of the mtDNA in the cells of a
person's body are copies of his or her mother's mtDNA, and all of the
mother's mtDNA is a copy of her mother's, and so on. No matter how far
back you go, mtDNA is always inherited only from the mother.
If you went back six generations in your own family tree, you'd see
that your nuclear DNA is inherited from 32 men and 32 women. Your
mtDNA, on the other hand, would have come from only one of those 32
Defining mitochondrial ancestors
Let's get back to "Eve." The ancestor referred to in the 1987 Nature
article can be more precisely stated as "the most recent common
ancestor through matrilineal descent of all humans living today." In
other words, she is the most recent person from whom everyone now
living on Earth has inherited his or her mtDNA. This certainly does
not mean that she is the ancestral mother of all who came after her;
during her time and even before her time there were many women and men
who contributed to the nuclear genes we now carry. (To see how this
can be, check out Tracing Ancestry.) It also does not mean that the
mtDNA originated with this "Eve"; she and her contemporaries also had
their own "most recent common ancestor though matrilineal descent," a
woman who lived even further into the past who passed on her mtDNA to
everyone living during "Eve's" time. (We get our mtDNA from that same,
older ancestor. She's just not, to us, the most recent common
So what about all of the mtDNA of the other women who lived during
"Eve's" time? What happened to it? Simply this: Somewhere between now
and then, they had female descendants who had only sons (or no
children). When this happened, the passing on of their mtDNA halted.
Finding mitochondrial ancestors
Even though everyone on Earth living today has inherited his or her
mtDNA from one person who lived long ago, our mtDNA is not exactly
alike. Random mutations have altered the genetic code over the
millennia. But these mutations are organized, in a way. For example,
let's say that 10,000 years after the most recent common ancestor, one
of the mtDNA branches experienced a mutation. From that point on, that
line of mtDNA would include that alteration. Another branch might
experience a mutation in a different location. This alteration would
also be passed on. What we would eventually end up with are some
descendants who have mtDNA that is exactly or very much like that of
some people's, somewhat like that of others, and less like that of yet
others. By looking at the similarities and differences of the mtDNA of
all of these individuals, researchers could try to reconstruct where
the branching took place.
This is what some researchers have done. For the original 1987 Nature
article, the three authors (Rebecca Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan
Wilson) looked at the mtDNA of 147 people from continents around the
world (though for Africans, they relied on African Americans).
Later, with the help of a computer program, they put together a sort
of family tree, grouping those with the most similar DNA together,
then grouping the groups, and then grouping the groups of groups. The
tree they ended up with showed that one of the two primary branches
consisted only of African mtDNA and that the other branch consisted of
mtDNA from all over the world, including Africa. From this, they
inferred that the most recent common mtDNA ancestor was an African
Dating mitochondrial ancestors
The three researchers went even further-they estimated the age of the
ancestor. To get the estimate, they made the assumption that the
random mutations occurred at a steady rate. And since they now had an
idea of how much the mtDNA had changed from the ancestor's, all they
needed was the mutation rate to determine the age of the ancestor. For
instance, if they took the mutation rate to be one in every 1,000
years and knew that there was a difference of 10 mutations between the
mtDNA of people living today and the mtDNA of an ancestor who lived
long ago, then they could infer that the ancestor lived 10,000 years
Cann, Stoneking, and Wilson estimated the mutation rate by looking at
the mtDNA of groups of people whose ancestors migrated to areas at
known times. One group was Australian aborigines, whose ancestors
moved to the island-continent a then-calculated 30,000 years ago.
Since the three then knew how long it took for that group's mtDNA to
diverge as well as how much it diverged, they determined the mutation
rate. Using this rate, they determined that the most recent common
ancestor lived 140,000 to 290,000 years ago (which they roughly
averaged to 200,000 years ago). That was back in 1987. Since then,
researchers have updated the estimate to 120,000 to 150,000 years ago.
However, the margin for error for this estimate and the previous one
are significant-when all of the variables are taken into account, the
current range is more like 50,000 to 500,000.
Mitochondrial DNA is extracted from the bones of Neanderthals and
compared to the mtDNA of living Homo sapiens.
Neanderthals and mtDNA
Finding out about our most recent common ancestor relies solely on
inferences from the mtDNA of people living today. What if we could
actually compare our mtDNA with mtDNA of a distant ancestor? This, in
fact, has been done, with mtDNA from the bones of Neanderthals.
Comparing mtDNA of these Neanderthals to mtDNA of living people from
various continents, researchers have found that the Neanderthals'
mtDNA is not more closely related to that of people from any one
continent over another. This was an unwelcome finding for
anthropologists who believe that there was some interbreeding between
Neanderthals and early modern humans living in Europe (which might
have helped to explain why modern Europeans possess some
Neanderthal-like features); these particular anthropologists instead
would have expected the Neanderthals' mtDNA to be more similar to that
of modern Europeans than to that of other peoples. Moreover, the
researchers determined that the common ancestor to Neanderthals and
modern Homo sapiens lived as long as 500,000 years ago, well before
the most recent common mtDNA ancestor of modern humans. This suggests
(though it does not prove) that Neanderthals went extinct without
contributing to the gene pool of any modern humans.
There are many variables that can affect the mutation rate of mtDNA,
including even the possibility that mtDNA is not always inherited
strictly through maternal lines. In fact, recent studies show that
paternal mtDNA can on rare occasions enter an egg during fertilization
and alter the maternal mtDNA through recombination. Such recombination
would drastically affect the mutation rate and throw off date
Not surprisingly, there is currently a heated debate over the value of
"mitochondrial Eve"-especially between history-hunting geneticists and
some fossil-finding paleoanthropologists. According to these
anthropologists, even if we could accurately gauge the age of the
ancestor, that knowledge is meaningless because all she really is is
the woman whose mtDNA did not die out due to random lineage
extinctions. Furthermore, her status as the most recent common
ancestor doesn't mean that she and her contemporaries were any
different from their ancestors. (Remember, she and all of her
contemporaries had their own mitochondrial Eve.)
Perhaps the most valuable finding regarding the "most recent common
ancestor" is that she probably lived in Africa-a finding that supports
the most popular theories about the worldwide spread of hominids.
Rick Groleau is managing editor of NOVA Online.
Documentary Redraws Humans' Family TreeHillary Mayell
for National Geographic News
January 21, 2003
By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, geneticist
Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended
from a single man who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago.
Modern humans, he contends, didn't start their spread across the globe
until after that time. Most archaeologists would say the exodus began
100,000 years ago-a 40,000-year discrepancy.
Wells's take on the origins of modern humans and how they came to
populate the rest of the planet is bound to be controversial.
His work adds to an already crowded field of opposing hypotheses
proposed by those who seek answers in "stones and bones"-
archaeologists and paleoanthropologists-and those who seek them
in our blood-population geneticists and molecular biologists.
Over the last decade, major debate on whether early humans evolved in
Africa or elsewhere, when they began outward migration, where they
went, and whether they interbred with or replaced archaic species has
moved out of scientific journals and into the public consciousness.
Wells addresses these issues in a new book, The Journey of Man: A
Genetic Odyssey, and a National Geographic documentary of the same
title. In a straightforward story, he explains how he traced the
exodus of modern humans from Africa by analyzing genetic changes in
DNA from the y-chromosome.
"As often happens in science," he said, "technology has opened up a
field to new ways of answering old questions-often providing startling
Of course, not everyone agrees with him.
Search for Origins
The use of population genetics and molecular biology in human origins
research has been extremely important in helping to resolve a
long-running debate on where modern humans first evolved.
With the benefit of genetics, and mitochondrial DNA, we are now able
to look at the footprints that our earliest of ancestors left. Subtle,
natural mutations in mitochondrial DNA have enabled scientists to
analyse the development of the world's populations.
mtDNA has now been used to trace back through all of these natural
mutations to the origins of all modern human existence to a woman
known poetically as 'Mitochondrial Eve', who lived around 150,000
'Mitochondrial Eve' is most recent common ancestor of all humans alive
on Earth today with respect to our matrilineal descent. Note that this
does not necessarily mean that she was the only woman alive at that
time. Presumably there were other females alive at that time, but her
lineage is the only female lineage to have survived through to the
modern day. Since then, as people have migrated across and out of
Africa (see Ancient Migrations), their mtDNA has changed slightly
owing to very occasional mutations in the genetic structure, offering
us the wealth of different mtDNA types now.
The concept of 'Mitochondrial Eve' is in some sense a purely
mathematical fact. Consider the number of all women living on earth
today, 'A'. Now consider the number of the mothers of all women living
on earth today, 'B'. Obviously, B is either the same size or less than
A. As you go back through the generations, B reduces, ultimately to
one woman. That woman is popularly referred to as Mitochondrial Eve.
Y chromosomal Adam
Because the Y chromosome is passed down exclusively from father to
son, all human Y chromosomes today trace back to a single prehistoric
father, "Y chromosomal Adam", whose time we can date to more than
100,000 years ago using statistical methods.
Just like mtDNA, the original Y chromosome has mutated its DNA
naturally over the generations and these new Y types have settled in
various parts of the world in prehistory. By determining your present
Y-type and searching the worldwide Y database, Cambridge DNA Services
can give you a good idea where in the world your father's lineage is
generally found today.
Soon after the appearance of Mitochondrial Eve around 150,000 years
ago, an early expansion of modern humans populated much of Africa,
around 100,000 years ago.
The incredible story of the peopling of the world is told through a
combination of genetics and archaeology.
The group of mtDNA sequences from this first expansion can still be
found today, particularly in the KhoiSan ('bushmen') of Southern
Africa and the West pygmies of Central Africa. These earliest groups
of mtDNA sequences - or haplogroups - are known by scientists as 'L1'
and 'L0', and all subsequent groups are also known by a letter. (Read
Where is the biological data of DNA -Mitochondrial DNA or Y-chromosome-
tracing all existing homo sapiens sapient's populations to an Israeli
ancestor common to every human on Earth? There is none.
If the fossil teeth found in the cave in Palestine is human and 400,000
years old, that does not refute the paleontological evidence or fossil
record supporting the theory that hominims evolved in Africa.
Moreover, there is no DNA evidence tracing all of humankind to any
primordial clan in Israel. What would be demonstrated is that the homo
sapiens had diverged from common ancestor of humans, chimps and bonobo
earlier than previously believed, and that some left Africa earlier
than indicated by the evidence so far.
"Homo sapiens discovered in Middle Awash, Ethiopia, from 160,000 years
ago were believed to be the oldest 'modern' human beings. Other
remains previously found in Israeli caves are thought to have been
more recent and 80,000 to 100,000 years old.
A group of international and Israeli researchers have discovered
pre-historic artefacts and human remains at the site that may prove
the earliest existence of modern man was about 400,000 years ago" (See
2nd article, below)
The fact of the discovery of the 400,000 year old dentition remains of
an early Homo sapien in cave in Palestine pushes back the timeline,
but does not discount the dentition and other corroborating fossil
evidence supporting the theory that it was in Africa that hominins
diverged from the common ancestor of Humans, Chimpanzee and Bonobo.
Researchers: Ancient human remains found in Israel
AP - Professor Avi Gopher from the Institute of Archeology of Tel
Aviv University holds an ancient tooth that ...
By DANIEL ESTRIN, Associated Press Daniel Estrin, Associated Press -
Mon Dec 27, 6:13 pm ET
Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest
evidence yet for the existence of modern man, and if so, it could
upset theories of the origin of humans.
A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said
teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those
of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens,
found in Israel. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are
half as old.
"It's very exciting to come to this conclusion," said archaeologist
Avi Gopher, whose team examined the teeth with X-rays and CT scans and
dated them according to the layers of earth where they were found.
He stressed that further research is needed to solidify the claim. If
it does, he says, "this changes the whole picture of evolution."
The accepted scientific theory is that Homo sapiens originated in
Africa and migrated out of the continent. Gopher said if the remains
are definitively linked to modern human's ancestors, it could mean
that modern man in fact originated in what is now Israel.
Sir Paul Mellars, a prehistory expert at Cambridge University, said
the study is reputable, and the find is "important" because remains
from that critical time period are scarce, but it is premature to say
the remains are human.
"Based on the evidence they've cited, it's a very tenuous and frankly
rather remote possibility," Mellars said. He said the remains are more
likely related to modern man's ancient relatives, the Neanderthals.
According to today's accepted scientific theories, modern humans and
Neanderthals stemmed from a common ancestor who lived in Africa about
700,000 years ago. One group of descendants migrated to Europe and
developed into Neanderthals, later becoming extinct. Another group
stayed in Africa and evolved into Homo sapiens - modern humans.
Teeth are often unreliable indicators of origin, and analyses of skull
remains would more definitively identify the species found in the
Israeli cave, Mellars said.
Gopher, the Israeli archaeologist, said he is confident his team will
find skulls and bones as they continue their dig.
The prehistoric Qesem cave was discovered in 2000, and excavations
began in 2004. Researchers Gopher, Ran Barkai and Israel Hershkowitz
published their study in the American Journal of Physical
Did first humans come out of Middle East and not Africa? Israeli
discovery forces scientists to re-examine evolution of modern man
By Matthew Kalman
28th December 2010
Scientists could be forced to re-write the history of the evolution of
modern man after the discovery of 400,000-year-old human remains.
Until now, researchers believed that homo sapiens, the direct
descendants of modern man, evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago
and gradually migrated north, through the Middle East, to Europe and
Recently, discoveries of early human remains in China and Spain have
cast doubt on the 'Out of Africa' theory, but no-one was certain.
Professor Avi Gopher, a researcher from Tel Aviv University's
Institute of Archaeology, holds a pre-historic tooth at Qesem cave, an
excavation site near the town of Rosh Ha'ayin
The new discovery of pre-historic human remains by Israeli university
explorers in a cave near Ben-Gurion airport could force scientists to
re-think earlier theories.
Early humans: Middle Awash Aramis, Ethiopia, where the first 'modern'
human beings were thought to have been discovered
Archeologists from Tel Aviv University say eight human-like teeth
found in the Qesem cave near Rosh Ha'Ayin - 10 miles from Israel's
international airport - are 400,000 years old, from the Middle
Pleistocene Age, making them the earliest remains of homo sapiens yet
discovered anywhere in the world.
The size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern
man. Until now, the earliest examples found were in Africa, dating
back only 200,000 years.
Other scientists have argued that human beings originated in Africa
before moving to other regions 150,000 to 200,000 years ago.
The findings of Professor Avi Gopher and Dr Ran Barkai of the
Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University, published last week in
the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, suggest that modern man
did not originate in Africa as previously believed, but in the Middle
The Qesem cave was discovered in 2000 and has been the focus of
intense study ever since.
Along with the teeth - the parts of the human skeleton that survive
the longest - the researchers found evidence of a sophisticated early
human society that used sharpened flakes of stone to cut meat and
other impressive prehistoric tools.
The Israeli scientists said the remains found in the cave suggested
the systematic production of flint blades, the habitual use of fire,
evidence of hunting, cutting and sharing of animal meat, and mining
raw materials to produce flint tools from rocks below ground.
'A diversified assemblage of flint blades was manufactured and used,'
the Tel Aviv scientists wrote, describing the tools they found in the
'Thick-edged blades, shaped through retouch, were used for scraping
semi-hard materials such as wood or hide, whereas blades with
straight, sharp working edges were used to cut soft tissues.'
The explorers said they were continuing to investigate the cave and
its contents, expecting to make more discoveries that would shed
further light on human evolution in prehistoric times.
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