Modern fossil dating techniques

04 Jan

It also widened the "cradle of mankind" to include all of Africa, since previous findings had only occurred in east and south Africa.

But the Jebel Irhoud fossil was most likely not as "modern" as the Misliya fossil.

And it suggests that other early modern human fossils recovered in the Qafzeh and Es Skhul caves in Israel are a result of the interactions between the Misliya people and the other local populations of the region, Hershkovitz said.

"We have a very long biological history, much longer than previously thought," Hershkovitz said.

It dated back to 300,000 years ago, 100,000 years older than previously discovered fossils of Homo sapiens that had been securely dated.

The Jebel Irhoud fossil captures a moment in time of evolution.

The facial features of the skull look like a modern human, but the brain case is very elongated and archaically characteristic of early humans.

"Now it is conceivable that also other modern humans, even a bit older than Misliya, might have left Africa -- I wouldn't be surprised now if someone finds a modern human in Eurasia at a time of 220,000 years -- and encountered Neanderthals or some forms on the way to Neanderthals.

"As any good science, Misliya raises new questions, but we made a big step forward, away from a too simple picture," Weber concluded.