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A 55,000-year-old modern human skull from Manot Cave, Israel.
Gerhard Weber  1@  , Israel Hershkovitz  2@  , Ofer Marder  3@  , Avner Ayalon  4@  , Bruce Latimer  5@  , Philipp Gunz  6@  , Hila May  2@  , Omry Barzilai  7@  
1 : Department of Anthropology [University of Vienna]  -  Site web
Althanstrasse 14 1090 Vienna -  Autriche
2 : Dan David Center for Human Evolution and Biohistory Research, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University [Tel Aviv]  -  Site web
Tel Aviv -  Israël
3 : Archaeology Division, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Beer-Sheva -  Israël
4 : Geological Survey of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel
5 : Departments of Anatomy and Orthodontics, Case Western Reserve University [Cleveland]  -  Site web
10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44106 -  États-Unis
6 : Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology  -  Site web
Deutscher Pl. 6, 04103 Leipzig -  Allemagne
7 : Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem, Israel

Genetic and archaeological models predict that African modern humans successfully colonized Eurasia in a time frame between 60,000 and 40,000 years before present (ka), replacing all other forms of hominins. While there is evidence for the first arrival in Europe around 45ka, the fossil record is extremely scarce with regard to earlier representatives from this period. A partial calvaria discovered at Manot Cave (Western Galilee, Israel) and dated to ~55 ka by uranium–thorium dating now closes this gap. Both the discrete morphological features observed on the Manot 1 calvaria as well as the metric shape analyses based on a landmark-semilandmark approach document that this partial skull is unequivocally modern. Its cranial shape perfectly clusters with a sample of modern human populations from different geographical origins and times, and is most similar to recent African skulls as well as to European skulls from the Upper Palaeolithic period (Mladeč 1 and Prĕdmostí 4), but different from most other early modern humans in the Levant. This suggests that Manot 1 probably represents a population that migrated out of Africa and reached the Levantine corridor in a favorable time of warmer and wetter climatic conditions over the Northern Sahara and the Mediterranean. Importantly, it provides evidence that both modern humans and Neanderthals (e.g. Kebara, Amud) contemporaneously inhabited the Levant during the Middle to Upper Paleolithic interface. This would be in support of genetic studies suggesting a gene flow from Neanderthals into Europeans, likely in Western Eurasia, and considerably later than 100ka. Manot 1 foreshadows the first European modern humans. The descendants of its population could have later migrated to Europe and have contributed to the early Upper Paleolithic populations there.

Supported by the Dan David Foundation, the Israel Antiquities Authority, Case Western Reserve University, the Leakey Foundation, the Irene Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation, the Keren Kayemet L'Israel and the Israel Science Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Exilarch's Foundation and the Max Planck Society–Weizman Institute Joint Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Bertha and Louis Weinstein Research Fund.

 


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