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A 210,000-year-old human skull could provide new evidence that our species left Africa much earlier than previously thought. A new study published in Nature of two fossils found in Greece in the 1970s shows that one of them is the oldest Homo sapiens specimen ever found outside Africa by more than 50,000 years.
This exciting discovery adds to a list of recent finds that shows the story of humanity's spread across the world and interaction with other related species is much more complicated than we once thought.
Skull - Fossils - Apidima - Cave - Series
The human skull was one of two cranial fossils found in Apidima Cave, one of a series of cave sites along the southwestern coast of the Peloponnese in Greece. The first, known as Apidima 1, comprised half of the rear of a skull case. Apidima 2 was a largely complete skull with a clear face, but had been heavily distorted during the fossilisation process.
Both were initially identified as Neanderthals and, as uncontroversial specimens, disappeared into the general table of fossils from humans and their closest extinct relatives (hominins).
Study - Team - Katerina - Harvati - Specimens
But the recent study from a multinational team led by Katerina Harvati reconstructed the specimens digitally and dated them by measuring their radioactive decay. "Geometric-morphometric" analysis allowed the researchers to reverse model the distortions of Apidima 2 to estimate what it would have originally looked like. This confirmed it was an early Neanderthal dating from around 150,000 years ago.
They also digitally recreated what the whole of the Apidima 1 skull would have looked like and realised it was more likely a modern human (Homo sapiens), dating it to 210,000 years ago.
Evolution - Story - Species - Ones - Humans
Human evolution is often thought of as a linear story of new species developing and replacing older, simpler ones. This narrative originally said that modern humans in the southern cape of Africa developed a suite of original ways...
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