It turns out humans may have migrated out of Africa a lot longer ago than anyone thought, if the discovery of the “oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa” is anything to go by.
Scientists were digging in one of a series of prehistoric caves, on the slopes of Mount Carmel on the northern coast of Israel, when they found the fossil of an “upper left jaw, with parts of the nasal cavity and cheekbone still intact.”
The fossil also had intact teeth. “We have the pre-molars, the molars, the canine, and we have the lateral incisor,” says Israel Hershkovitz, a paleoanthropologist at Tel Aviv University who was part of the team that studied the fossil.
A detailed analysis of the jawbone and the teeth confirmed that it indeed belonged to someone of our species, Homo sapiens. And when they dated the fossil, it turned out to be between 177,000 and 194,000 years old, making it the oldest known such fossil outside the African continent.
Earlier evidence had “suggested that Homo sapiens got out of Africa about 120,000 years ago.”