Saturday, December 25, 2010

Israel the Cradle of Humanity? Well Only In Hebrew..

NRG and Ynet are reporting that the oldest modern human (Homo Sapien) remains ever found have been dug up in a cave near Rosh Hayin. They are even giving it the title of "Israel the cradle of humanity". Being a general archeology buff, I read with some amazement the fantastical claims that teeth found in a cave showed the earliest signs of modern humans. Additionally some artifacts found in the cave were showing some tool making! 

Ynet is quoting professor Avi Gofer:

"אין שום מקום בעולם מלבד מערת קסם שבו אפשר להצביע על עדויות להומו סאפיינס מוקדם יותר".
"There is no place in the world except the cave in Qesem where you can find evidence of Homo Sapiens earlier" (My translation - BT).

This was all astonishing since so far everyone believed an "Out of Africa" hypothesis for humanity. Just thinking about all the Midrashim that I might now start quoting was getting me excited. However I didn't stop at this article. I quickly went to Google News and searched for other news sites reporting this discovery. "Hmmm..." how weird. Not even one result. 

So how come no other news source is reporting this amazing discovery? It took a bit of searching to find the original article. Unfortunately I don't have permission to download the full article, but the extract seems to be somewhat less bombastic then the headlines in the Israeli press:

This study presents a description and comparative analysis of Middle Pleistocene permanent and deciduous teeth from the site of Qesem Cave (Israel). All of the human fossils are assigned to the Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC) of the late Lower Paleolithic. The Middle Pleistocene age of the Qesem teeth (400–200 ka) places them chronologically earlier than the bulk of fossil hominin specimens previously known from southwest Asia. Three permanent mandibular teeth (C1-P4) were found in close proximity in the lower part of the stratigraphic sequence. The small metric dimensions of the crowns indicate a considerable degree of dental reduction although the roots are long and robust. In contrast, three isolated permanent maxillary teeth (I2, C1, and M3) and two isolated deciduous teeth that were found within the upper part of the sequence are much larger and show some plesiomorphous traits similar to those of the Skhul/Qafzeh specimens. Although none of the Qesem teeth shows a suite of Neanderthal characters, a few traits may suggest some affinities with members of the Neanderthal evolutionary lineage. However, the balance of the evidence suggests a closer similarity with the Skhul/Qafzeh dental material, although many of these resemblances likely represent plesiomorphous features. 

Earlier then "the bulk of fossil hominin specimens" is somewhat less then the so claimed earliest found remains of Homo Sapiens. Also the abstract is talking of Neanderthal or earlier remains.
 Is this a case where the people involved are telling the Israeli press one thing - and publishing in English quite a different story?  I'm going to reserve final judgment until someone sends me the full article to read.

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