New skull discovery shows mankind may have arrived in Europe 150,000 years earlier than previously

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Mankind may have arrived in Europe 150,000 years earlier than previously thought, researchers say, after reassessing an ancient skull found inside a cave in Greece in research led by the Universities of Tübingen and Athens.

The skull was found the cave in the 1970s, and initially identified as Neanderthal. But new techniques have allowed for further analysis of the skull, and scientists found to their astonishment that it is in fact a 210,000-year-old skull belonging to a Homo sapiens.

The sensational discovery adds to evidence of an earlier migration of people from Africa that left no trace in the DNA of people alive today.

Apidima 2 and Reconstruction
The Apidima 1 partial cranium (right) and its reconstruction from posterior view (middle) and side view (left). The rounded shape of the Apidima 1 cranium a unique feature of modern humans and contrasts sharply with Neanderthals and their ancestors.
Image: Katerina Harvati, University of Tübingen

Researchers uncovered two significant fossils in Apidima Cave in Greece in the 1970s.

One was very distorted and the other incomplete, however, and it took computed tomography scanning and uranium-series dating to unravel their secrets.

Apidima site.jpg
The Apidima cave complex, seen from the sea.
Image: Museum of Anthropology, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The more complete skull appears to be a Neanderthal. But the other shows clear characteristics, such as a rounded back to the skull, diagnostic of modern humans.

Via New York Times/University of Tübingen

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