Scientists , a team of anthropologists from Israel spent years analysing the fragments of a skull, lower jaw bone and tooth that were uncovered in Nesher Ramla in 2010, comparing them to hundreds of fossils around the world from different eras.
The researchers determined that the new fossils discovered likely came from a hominin group closely related to Neanderthals and sharing many of their features, such as the shape of the lower jaw. The scientists also believe that there are enough similarities to link this group to other populations found in prior cave excavations in Israel dating to around 400,000 years ago.
“The teeth have some unique features that enable us to draw a line between these populations,” said Tel Aviv University dental anthropologist Rachel Sarig, a co-author of the paper published Thursday in the journal Science.
There were likely cultural and genetic exchanges between the groups, the paper authors suggest. “The Neanderthal story can no longer be told as a European storey only. It’s a much more complicated storey,” said Hershkovitz.
Two teams of researchers took part in the dramatic discovery, published in the prestigious Science journal: an anthropology team from Tel Aviv University headed by Prof. Israel Hershkovitz, Dr. Hila May and Dr. Rachel Sarig from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Dan David Center for Human Evolution and Biohistory Research and the Shmunis Family Anthropology Institute, situated in the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University; and an archaeological team headed by Dr. Yossi Zaidner from the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.