2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Paleoanthropologists examined recently discovered fossils from the Nesher Ramla site. The parietal bones and the lower jaw belonged to a man who lived about 140-120 thousand years ago. However, their morphology does not allow attributing them to a certain known species - Homo erectus, Neanderthal man, African or European man of the Middle Pleistocene. Scientists are wary of suggesting that this is a previously unknown intermediate species, Homo Nesher Ramla, which could have populated Southwest Asia between 420 and 120 thousand years ago. The article was published in the journal Science.
The Nesher Ramla site is located on the slope of the Judean Mountains near Tel Aviv. It was discovered in a limestone quarry, after which a rescue archaeological excavation was carried out in 2010-2011. The results of the first dating have attributed the site to 178-72 thousand years ago. Archaeologists were able to discover about 80 thousand stone artifacts in Nesher Ramla, made mainly of flint. They belong to the middle phase of the Levantine Mousterian, but differ from similar collections of this period by a high level of standardization.
Researchers have found here a large collection of animal bones, traces of the use of fire. In addition, some of the findings were quite unusual. So, on one of the bones of animals belonging to the Middle Paleolithic, a symbolic engraving was discovered, which, according to scientists, is the oldest of its kind.
Location of the Nesher Ramla site on the map and photo from the excavation site
Israel Hershkovich of Tel Aviv University worked with scientists from nine countries to study several fossils found at the Nesher Ramla site of the Middle Pleistocene. Scientists have at their disposal an almost complete right parietal bone and four fragments of the left, as well as almost an entire lower jaw. They were found in the lowest archaeological layer, along with animal bones and flint tools. The remains most likely belonged to one person who lived about 140-120 thousand years ago.
The general morphology of the parietal bones indicates an archaic low cranial vault, which is typical of humans in the Middle Pleistocene and differs significantly from early and modern Homo sapiens. The lower jaw also exhibits archaic morphology combined with some traits from Neanderthals.
Phylogenetic tree. Fossils from the Nesher Ramla site are designated NR-1
The cumulative data obtained by scientists during fossil studies indicate a unique combination of archaic and Neanderthal features, confirming the existence of a local Levantine population of people at the end of the Middle Pleistocene. Scientists concluded that the finds from Nesher Ramla did not belong to early or late Homo sapiens, but with almost equal probability they can be attributed to Homo erectus, African or European man of the Middle Pleistocene, or Neanderthal.
The researchers noted that the first Neanderthals appeared in the Levant about 400 thousand years ago, and the ancestors of modern humans - about 180 thousand years ago. Finds of "classical" Neanderthals date back not earlier than 70 thousand years ago. Fossils from Nesher Ramla fill a gap in the archaeological record. They may belong to the population of the Middle Pleistocene Homo of South-West Asia, preserved up to 140-120 thousand years ago, which appeared in the region about 420 thousand years ago and made a genetic contribution to other species. Paleoanthropologists cautiously proposed to designate this find as Homo Nesher Ramla.
Earlier, on N + 1, they talked in detail about the studies of the origin and settlement of the ancient representatives of Homo in Eurasia. Thus, paleogenetics proved that the Denisovans were ahead of the Neanderthals in settling the Altai Mountains, and scientists from China and the United States found that the last ice age destroyed the human population in Northeast Asia.