40,000-year-old teeth discovered in northern Israel

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Israeli researchers found six human teeth dated to 40,000 years ago, Tel Aviv University (TAU), located in central Israel, reported on Tuesday.

A study, led by TAU researchers and published in the Journal of Human Evolution, examined the teeth that were found in a cave in the Galilee region of northern Israel.

With dental research, the team determined that the teeth belonged to modern humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals.

The teeth were found in archeological layers belonging to the rich and developed Aurignacian culture, first appeared in Europe some 43,000 years ago, and associated with the end of the Neanderthals era in Europe.

The discovered teeth are the first anthropological evidence of a population that emigrated from Europe to ancient Israel some 40,000 years ago, probably to stay away from extreme climatic conditions in the last glacial period, according to the reserchers.

One of the teeth showed a combination of Neanderthal and Homo sapiens features, which, to date, only been found in European populations from the late stone age, suggesting their common origin.

Recently, this combination has also been genetically proven, implying that the Neanderthals were assimilated into modern Europe.

The researchers said "the teeth are better preserved from bones because they are made of enamel, the most durable material in the body. More importantly, the tooth structure, shape and topography have a strong genetic component that allows teeth to be associated with specific populations."

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