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Skhūl V

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Discovered by: Theodore McCown and Hallam L. Movius, Jr.
Age: Between 120,000 and 80,000 years old
Fossil Name: Skhūl V
Location of Discovery: Mount Carmel, Israel

Skhūl V was recovered from the Skhūl Cave near Mount Carmel, Israel, along with the skeletons of nine other adults and children. Some anatomical features, like the brow ridges above the eyes of the male Skhūl V skull are reminiscent of earlier humans; however, Skhūl V also has the high, vertical forehead and rounded skull typical of modern human skulls. At the back of the skull, Skhūl V also lacks a projecting ‘bun,’ which occurs in many Neanderthal skulls.

The Skhūl site was originally thought to be about 40,000 years old based on a comparison of animal remains and stone tools found at the site with those from other archeological sites in the region. This late date was important since it was then assumed that the Neanderthal fossils found at the nearby fossil site of Tabun Cave must be older than the modern Homo sapiens  population of Skhul. This assumption left open the possibility that the Tabun Neanderthals were the evolutionary ancestors of modern humans at Skhūl.

However, after more precise dating techniques, scientists found that the modern Homo sapiens fossils at Skhūl were about 90,000 years old, much older than was previously thought. This meant the anatomically modern human population at Skhūl lived at the same time as the Neanderthal population of Tabun. Therefore, the Tabun Neanderthals could not have been the ancestors of modern humans in the Near East.


Homo sapiens