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It helps to explain why a modern human fossil was found in China, dated to 120,000 years ago.It supports the growing research that modern humans left Africa 220,000 years ago and interacted with Neanderthals earlier than thought.The features of the jaw and teeth are unmistakably human, the researchers said.
Before the Jebel Irhoud discovery, it was believed that the early modern humans we evolved from were in Africa 200,000 years ago and looked very similar to modern humans. This is still unknown, although the researchers suggest the possibility that there were multiple groups of hominins, or human ancestors, overlapping and having complex relationships.
And it suggests that other early modern human fossils recovered in the Qafzeh and Es Skhul caves in Israel are a result of the interactions between the Misliya people and the other local populations of the region, Hershkovitz said.
"We have a very long biological history, much longer than previously thought," Hershkovitz said.
Finding the tools and fossil in such close proximity also suggests that Homo sapiens introduced this technology to the area when they appeared.
"The rich archaeological evidence reveals that the inhabitants of Misliya cave were capable hunters of large game species such as aurochs (extinct large cows), Persian fallow deer and gazelles," Israel Hershkovitz, study author and professor in the department of anatomy and anthropology at Tel Aviv University, said in an email.
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"We now have clear fossil evidence that modern humans moved out of Africa earlier than we previously believed," Rolf Quam, study coauthor and anthropology professor at Binghamton University, said in an email.