It has long been believed that Neanderthals originated and flourished on the European continent. However, recent morphological and genetic studies have suggested that they may have received a genetic contribution from a yet unknown non-European group. Here we report on the recent discovery of archaic Homo fossils from the site of Nesher Ramla, Israel, which we dated to 140,000 to 120,000 years ago. Comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analyses of the parietal bones, mandible, and lower second molar revealed that this Homo group presents a distinctive combination of Neanderthal and archaic features. We suggest that these specimens represent the late survivors of a Levantine Middle Pleistocene paleodeme that was most likely involved in the evolution of the Middle Pleistocene Homo in Europe and East Asia.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by grants from the Dan David Foundation; the Shmunis Family Anthropology Institute; the Leakey Foundation; the Care Archaeological Foundation; the LabEx Sciences Archéologiques de Bordeaux (LaScArBx ANR-10-LABX-52); the Dirección General de Investigación of the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, grant nos. PGC2018-093925-B-C31 and C33 (MCI/AEI/FEDER, UE); and the Israel Science Foundation (1936/18, 1773/15). C.F. and V.A.K. were financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant nos. 31003A_156299/1 and 31003A_176319). V.S. acknowledges funding from the Alon Fellowship.
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