NEW YORK (AP) – Scientists say they have identified the earliest sign of our species outside of Africa, a lump of skull that has been restored from a hole in southern Greece.
The expected age is at least 210,000 years old, making it 16,000 or more years older than an Israeli upper jaw reported last year. It shows that our species began to leave Africa much earlier than previously thought, researchers told Wednesday.
The travelers to Greece apparently left no descendants today. Other studies have stated that the emigration from Africa, which led to our worldwide spread, did not take place more than 100,000 years later. The new work is the last sign of past deaths from the continent, where Homo sapiens evolved.
The fossil, from behind a skull, was actually found decades ago ̵
"There was not much emphasis on it," said Katerina Harvati of the University of Tuebingen in Germany, who was invited to study the fossil.
Harvati and others report the results of their analysis in the journal Nature. To establish the age, they analyzed bits of bone from the fossil. To identify which species it came from, the researchers compared a virtual reconstruction with the forms of fossils from known species.
Harvati said finding evidence that our species had reached Greece at that time was originally a surprise, even though it was in thought "it's not hard to imagine that it would have happened." 19659002] Eric Delson from Lehman College in New York, who did not attend the study, said the discovery was somewhat surprising, but Southeastern Europe "makes much sense" for finding the old one. Now the question is what happened to these people, he said.
Warren Sharp, an expert on dating fossils at the Berkeley Geochronology Center in California, said the age of 210,000 years is "not well supported by the data."
Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York called the case to identify the fossil as H. sapiens' "rather shaky". Its form is suggestive, but it is incomplete, and it lacks features that would speed up identification, he said in an email.
In response, Harvati said that the back of the skull is very useful for differentiating H. sapiens from Neanderthals and other related species, and that more evidence supports the identification.
At a press conference, Harvati said it is not clear whether scientists will be able to recover DNA or proteins from the fossil to confirm their identity.
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