Brutes and Brains
Scientists have announced the discovery of the earliest modern human fossil ever found outside of Africa. Intriguingly, it was located in the Holy Land, in Misliya Cave in modern Israel. There isn’t a lot to the remains, just part of a skull and some teeth, but it’s enough for a positive identification. The bones are estimated to be between 175,000 and 200,000 years old. The find proves that humans left Africa some 50,000 years earlier than had been previously believed. Rolf Quam, an Anthropologist with Binghamton University, who co-authored the study, stated: “It provides the clearest evidence yet…The earliest Homo sapiens fossils, the same species as us, date to around 315,000 years ago from Africa…modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges.” And by “cultural and biological exchanges” with the Neanderthals and other extinct human species, he means either having sex with them, killing and possibly eating them, or being killed and eaten by them.
Those humans, though, wouldn’t have had “modern” brains, as modern brains are only some 40,000 years old, this new study posits. That’s when human brains started becoming round, like the brains of living humans today. Prior to that, they were flatter, elongated, more like is seen in apes. It seems that, as human beings evolved modern bodies, the brain was the last thing to go, or let go of its animal shape. That could be awfully telling, there, the fact that our brains, our human intelligence, is the “youngest” part about us.