World’s Oldest Human Remains Found in Israel

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Professor Avi Gopher, a researcher from Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology, holds a pre-historic tooth at Qesem cave, an excavation site near the town of Rosh Ha'ayin, east of Tel Aviv. December 27, 2010. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Africa may not be the birthplace of modern man after all.

Israeli archaeologists digging in caves east of Tel Aviv have discovered eight human teeth dating from 400,000 years ago, which may be the earliest traces of the human species.

(Read TIME’s article, “What Did the Well-Dressed Neanderthal Wear?”)

“The teeth are scattered through the layers of the cave, some in the deeper part, that is to say from 400,000 years and through all kinds of other layers that can be up to 200,000 years,” Avi Gopher, of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology, told the AFP.

“It is accepted at the moment that the earliest Homo sapiens that we know is in east Africa and is 200,000 years old, or a little less. We don’t know of anywhere else where anyone claims to have an earlier Homo sapiens,” he said.

(Read “Study: Neanderthals Cooked and Ate Their Veggies.”)

Gopher said his team first discovered teeth in 2006 but waited to publish their findings until they had collected several samples and completed years of testing.