Israeli archaeologists announced on Monday that they may have just found the earliest evidence of the existence of modern man. If it proves to be the case, it would upset the most commonly accepted theories of the origins of humans.
A team of archaeologists from Tel Aviv University excavating a cave in central Israel found teeth in the cave that are about 400,000 years old and resemble the remains of modern men, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, that have been found in Israel.
Until now, the earliest Homo sapien remains were just half as old.
Archaeologist Ari Gopher and his team examined the teeth with X-rays and CT scans, and dated them according to the layers of the earth where they were found. He says that further research is needed to solidify the claim, but if it does "this changes the whole picture of evolution."
Accepted scientific theory says that Homo sapiens originated in Africa and migrated out of the continent. If the remains are in fact linked to modern human's ancestors, then it is possible that modern man originated out of Israel.
Paul Mellars, a prehistory expert at Cambridge University, says that it is more likely that the remains are related to modern man's ancient relatives, the Neanderthals. He also says that teeth are unreliable indicators of origin, and that an analysis of a skull would more definitively identify the species found in the Israeli cave.
Gopher says that he is confident that he and his team will find skulls and more bones as they continue their dig. Excavations of the prehistoric Qesem cave, which was discovered in 2000, began in 2004.
The accepted scientific theory says that modern humans and Neanderthals came from a common ancestor that lived in Africa around 700,000 years ago. One group of decendents migrated to Europe and developed into Neanderthals, which later became extinct. Another group stayed in Africa and evolved into Homo sapiens, or modern humans.
Gopher, Ran Barkai, and Israel Hershkowitz published their study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.