Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Nesher Ramla Homo (Israel)

A paper published last June (I. Hershkovitz et al. A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, Israel. Science. Vol. 372, June 25, 2021, p. 1424. doi: 10.1126/science.abh3169.) describes bones found in a site in Israel, dating back to 140-120,000 years ago. These remains display a mixture of archaic and modern features that prompted the authors to suggest a name for this "last surviving populations of Middle Pleistocene Homo in Europe" as the "Nesher Ramla Homo"".

There is a second paper (Y. Zaidner et al. Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiens. Science. Vol. 372, June 25, 2021, p. 1429. doi: 10.1126/science.abh3020.) that explores their stone knapping technology, comparable to that of Neanderthal and H. sapiens, using Levalloisean techniques. Until now it was believed that Middle Pleistocene (MP) hominins could only produce more primitive Acheulean tools.

The acquisition of Levalloisean "know-how" apparently came through admixture of this MP Homo and Homo sapiens: "We contend that cultural diffusion and interaction across Homo populations is the most likely reason for such a close cultural similarity between MP Homo and H. sapiens... Our findings provide archaeological support for close cultural interactions between different human lineages during the Middle Paleolithic period and suggest that contacts between MP Homo and H. sapiens had already occurred prior to 120 ka."

The MP Homo or Nesher Ramla Homo is a mossaic of archaic and modern features, compatible with H. erectus, Neanderthal and H. sapiens:
"The cumulative evidence from the three analyzed anatomical elements (parietal bone, mandible, and M2) reveal a unique combination of archaic and Neanderthal features, supporting the existence of a local, Levantine population at the final MP. The results of the quadratic discriminant analyses ... show that an affiliation of the NR fossils with early and recent H. sapiens is highly unlikely, but that it is impossible to establish whether NR fossils are more likely to be classified as MP Homo, Neanderthal, or H. erectus (the latter for the parietal only).
Consequently, the discriminant function plot (fig. S1) shows that the NR-1 parietal falls between the H. erectus/African MP Homo group and the European MP Homo/Neanderthals, with a similar likelihood of belonging to either cluster (H. erectus = 0.41, MP Homo = 0.34, Neanderthal = 0.25, based on the first three PCs).

So they conclude that "The NR fossils could represent late-surviving examples (140 to 120 ka) of a distinctive Southwest Asian MP Homo group, predating Levantine Neanderthals from Amud, Kebara, and Ein Qashish (70 to 50 ka)."

Below is an image from the commentary published (Marta Lahr) with the studies; it shows the increasing complexity of the evolution of human beings.

From M. Mirazón Lahr. The complex landscape of recent human evolution. Science. Vol. 372, June 25, 2021, p. 1395. doi: 10.1126/science.abj3077.

I will close with Lahr's comment: " The poor preservation of ancient DNA in Africa precludes similar insights into our African demographic history. However, the recent discovery of modern human fossils in Greece and Israel dating to about 210 to 177 ka ago and ancient European genomes show that there were multiple out-of-Africa dispersals in the last 400,000 years, during which early humans and Neanderthals interbred."

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2021 by Austin Whittall © 
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