could be compelled to rewrite the history of the evolution of
modern man after the discovery of 400,000-year-old human remains.
Until now, researchers believed that homo sapiens, the direct
descendants of modern man, evolved in Africa about 200,000 years
ago and gradually migrated north, through the Middle East, to
Europe and Asia.
Recently, discoveries of early human remains in China and Spain
have cast doubt on the 'Out of Africa' theory, but no one was
certain, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology reports.
The new discovery of prehistoric human remains by the Israeli
university explorers in a cave near Ben-Gurion airport could force
scientists to re-think earlier theories, according to the Daily
Archaeologists from the Tel Aviv University say eight human-like
teeth found in the Qesem cave near Rosh Ha'Ayin - 10 miles from
Israel's international airport - are 400,000 years old, from the
Middle Pleistocene Age, making them the earliest remains of homo
sapiens yet discovered anywhere in the world.
The size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of
modern man. Until now, the earliest examples found were in Africa,
dating back only 200,000 years.
Other scientists have argued that human beings originated in
Africa before moving to other regions 150,000 to 200,000 years
Homo sapiens discovered in Middle Awash, Ethiopia, from 160,000
years ago were believed to be the oldest 'modern' human beings.
Other remains previously found in Israeli caves are thought to
have been more recent and 80,000 to 100,000 years old.
The findings of Professor Avi Gopher and Dr Ran Barkai of the
Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, suggest that
modern man did not originate in Africa as previously believed, but
in the Middle East.
The Qesem cave was discovered in 2000 and has been the focus of
intense study ever since.
Along with the teeth - the parts of the human skeleton that
survive the longest - the researchers found evidence of a
sophisticated early human society that used sharpened flakes of
stone to cut meat and other impressive prehistoric tools.