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When Did Modern Humans Leave Africa?

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When Did Modern Humans Leave Africa?

A ~180,000-year-old fossil from Israel provides evidence for early forays of Homo sapiens into western Asia.


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The Misliya fossil will reshape people’s understanding of how early humans moved and evolved.

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Based on the age and location of fossils and artifacts, researchers can build a picture of how early Homo sapiens migrated and evolved. The H. sapiens fossil recently found at Misliya Cave in Israel is the oldest specimen outside Africa. Researchers Chris Stringer and Julia Galway-Witham of the Natural History Museum in London offer a primer on this discovery. They put the Misliya fossil in context with other H. sapiens specimens and describe how it reshapes people’s knowledge of early human migration. This article will fascinate anyone curious about human evolution.


Fossils with distinct features of Homo sapiens have been found spread out in Africa and in parts of Israel.

The Homo sapiens fossils found in Africa are some of the oldest specimens uncovered. Fossils from Jebel Irhoud (Morocco) are ~315,000 years old while those from Ethiopian sites range between ~195,000 and ~160,000 years old. In contrast, fossils from Skhul and Qafzeh in Israel are between 90,000 and 120,000 years old.

The oldest H. sapiens fossil found outside Africa was at Misliya Cave in Israel.

The Misliya fossil show characteristics of H. ...

About the Authors

Chris Stringer is Merit Researcher at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London and Fellow of the Royal Society. Julia Galway-Witham is a Research Assistant at the NHM.

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