Photo: Professor Israel Hershkowitz
The teeth found in a cave near Tel Aviv
Photo: Professor Israel Hershkowitz

Teeth found near Tel Aviv point to a new prehistoric human species

The 400,000-year-old teeth reveal that the origin of prehistoric man may be in Israel; anaylsis of teeth shows owner was vegetarian.

Researchers found four teeth in the Qesem Cave near Rosh Ha'ayin (not far from Tel Aviv), and they were astonished at  test results that conclude the fossils to be some 400,000-years-old. The significance of this is that it's possible that the origin of prehistoric man is in Israel, and not in East Africa. And an additional surprise is that prehistoric man was mainly vegetarian and not carnivorous.



The cave is 10 meters deep and its surface area is approximately 300 square meters. Researchers have been sifting through it for some 15 years to discover remains from prehistoric times. The ancient teeth were discovered by scientists from Tel Aviv University and other research institutions in the world.


Their examination revealed that they belong to a type of prehistoric man that lived in Israel, and that until now no one knew existed. Science has until now held that humans originated in Africa (Homo Sapiens who developed there about 200,000 years ago.)


Another prehistoric species was the Neanderthal, who became extinct, and originated in Europe about 300,000 years ago. It is estimated that the teeth found in the cave in Israel belong to more ancient species of human, who was in fact the father of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.


Tests of the tartar from the teeth revealed remnants of seeds and coal particles which indicate that this species, which science has still not named, was mostly vegetarian. He did eat meat but in very small quantities.


The rapid discovery on the teeth's compostion was made possible by research done by Professor Avi Gopher, Prof. Ran Barkai and Dr. Rachel Sarig of Tel Aviv University in collaboration with foreign researchers.


Prof. Gopher said that the cave in Rosh HaAyin has already provided in recent years several important discoveries, including proof of regular use fire to roast meat and the recycling of tools in prehistoric times. "Now, with the discovery of the teeth, it provides early evidence of a species that is likely to be the ancestor of modern man in our region. This finding challenges the conventional view that Homo Sapiens originated in East Africa," he said.


According to Gopher, a close examination of the teeth revealed that they "belong neither to our ancestor Homo Erectus nor to our brothers, the Neanderthals, but rather to a species belonging to a new lineage of man unknown until now."


Gopher explains his vegetarianism by the disappearance of elephants in our region about 400,000 years ago, which forced the species, who ate them, to find an alternative source of food. In addition, roasting meat in caves caused constant smoke which bothered them and probably hurt their health.


פרסום ראשון: 06.20.15, 20:35
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