Skull Hints at Interbreeding with Neanderthals

Manot Cave Skull Hints at Interbreeding with Neanderthals


Manot cave © Israel Hershkovitz, Ofer Marder, Omry Barzilai

In the Manot cave in Galilee, Israel, archaeologists unearthed an incomplete skull that suggests interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals. The area surrounding the Manot cave has traditionally been known for its Neanderthal remains. The skull, seemingly female, dates to 55,000 years ago; it is the oldest human remain discovered outside Africa to date. The find is a step toward confirming a hypothesis that formerly had no archaeological support: according to genome studies of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, the two species most likely interbred in the Middle East sometime between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. Although an accurate DNA analysis may be impossible due to the high temperature of the region, the Manot cave skull proves that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals lived in close proximity during the timeframe predicted by genome studies.

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