Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are Gopher's Finds the Teeth of Neanderthals or Homo Sapiens?

Yesterday I reported on published information about a discovery of teeth and other evidence of complex human like activity found by Prof Avi Gopher and Dr Ran Barkai of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. The site of the finds is about 10 miles from Tel Aviv airport. Tentatively these finds have been dated as being 400,000 years old. If these finds can be documented as artifacts resulting from the activities of homo sapiens who were in the Middle East that long ago, this will cause us to rethink accepted concepts of human migration.

Could these be the remains of Neanderthals instead?  In a report on National Public Radio, Sir Paul Mellars, a prehistory expert at Cambridge University, questioned whether the teeth found in Israel by a team led by Gopher were directly related to modern humans. "'Based on the evidence they've sited, 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."

It will probably years or even decades before we can confidently conclude whether or not we had ancestors in the Middle East that long ago.

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