An Early Pleistocene Hominin in Israel
At 1.5 million years old, the vertebra and associated stone tools suggests multiple out of Africa migrations
A new paper in Scientific Reports documents the discovery of one and a half million years old hominin vertebra from the ‘Ubeidiya site in the Jordan Valley of Israel 1. The specimen is coined UB 10749. Initially unearthed in 1966, the vertebra belonged to a 6 to 12 years old individual. Based upon the size of this vertebra the authors projecte that UB 10749 was tall for his age. He would have reached a height of over 180 cm had he reached adulthood.
A comparative anatomical study was first conducted between three presacral vertebrae of hominins and Pan. UB 10749 is morphologically more like a vertebra seen in Homo and less like vertebrae in Pan or Australopithecus. Specifically, is closer to the vertebrae of KNM-WT-150002, an early Pleistocene sub-adult specimen from east Africa. The best conclusion is that the vertebra belongs to an early Pleistocene Homo, as this ancient human is similar in size to other large hominins found in east Africa and is different from the short-statured australopithecines and primates that lived elsewhere.
This specimen is significant in that it was found in the Levant. This area has been a corridor between Africa and Eurasia for quite a long time and provides a roadmap of human dispersal patterns out of Africa. But compared relatively abundant early Pleistocene record of east Africa, currently, only four hominin specimens have been discovered dating to the early Pleistocene outside of Africa. None of which come from the Levant. Therefore, the prehistoric site of ‘Ubeidiya is one of the few places that contain preserved remnants of the early human exodus from Africa and the only hominin remains of this age in the corridor out of Africa.