The scientists have unearthed a partial skull in Manot Cave at West Galilee, Israel which indicates that the early humans were engaged in mating with Neanderthals at some point of time in Israel approximately 55,000 years ago.
As the modern Europeans have inherited nearly four percent of their genes from Neanderthals, the two groups are said to have mated at some point in the history.
The study’s findings have challenged the earlier hypothesis that postulates the two species potentially met each other somewhere in Europe around 45,000 years ago.
According to the researchers, the study showed that the Neanderthals living at the different sites in Levantine in the eastern Mediterranean region placed the two species in the same region at roughly the same time.
Manot cave is located in the region where the scientists claim Neanderthals had periodically lived, likely at a time when the ice sheets forced them to migrate from Europe to other warmer neighbours, such as the Levant region.
The partial cranium, which is covered in a minerals patina that is produced due to the wet conditions within the Manot cave, allowed the researchers of the Geological Survey of Israel, including Avner Ayalon, Miryam Bar-Matthews and Gal Yas’ur, to use uranium-thorium dating techniques in determining the age of skull, which was found between 50,000 to 60,000-year-old.
The researchers couldn’t know much about the gender of the fossil as the brow ridge, a marker for gender differences, was missing. As the skull belonged to an adult, the researchers could easily conclude that it was unrelated to other sub-adult human bones and teeth that were also found in the cave.
The findings of the study were published online in the journal Nature.