An international team of archaeologists has uncovered ancient remains that add new dimensions to the story of human evolution

Who Is the Nesher Ramla Homo?

The story


“An international team of archaeologists has uncovered ancient remains that add new dimensions to the story of human evolution.

By Michelle Langley

Michelle Langley is a senior research fellow at Griffith University.

7 JUL 2021

This article was originally published at The Conversation and has been republished under Creative Commons.

An international group of archaeologists has discovered a missing piece in the story of human evolution.

Excavations at the Israeli site of Nesher Ramla have recovered a skull that may represent a late-surviving example of a distinct Homo population that lived in and around modern-day Israel from about 420,000 to 120,000 years ago.

As researchers Israel Hershkovitz, Yossi Zaidner, and colleagues detail in two companion studies published recently in Science, this ancient human community traded both their culture and genes with nearby Homo sapiens groups for many thousands of years.


Pieces of a skull, including a right parietal (toward the back/side of the skull) and an almost complete mandible (jaw) were dated to 140,000–120,000 years old, with analysis finding the person it belonged to wasn’t fully H. sapiens.

Nor were they Neanderthal, however, which was the only other type of human thought to have been living in the region at the time.

Instead, this individual falls right smack in the middle: a unique population of Homo never before recognized by science.

Through detailed comparison with many other fossil human skulls, the researchers found the parietal bone featured “archaic” traits that are substantially different from both early and recent H. sapiens. In addition, the bone is considerably thicker than those found in both Neanderthals and most early H. sapiens.

The jaw, too, displays archaic features, but also includes forms commonly seen in Neanderthals.

The bones together reveal a unique combination of archaic and Neanderthal features distinct from both early H. sapiens and later Neanderthals.



The authors suggest fossils found at other Israeli sites, including the famous Lady of Tabun, might also be part of this new human population, in contrast to their previous Neanderthal or H. sapiens identification.

The Lady of Tabun (known to archaeologists as Tabun C1) was discovered in 1932 by pioneering archaeologist Yusra and her field director, Dorothy Garrod.

Extensively studied, this important specimen taught us much about Neanderthal anatomy and behavior in a time when very little was known about our enigmatic evolutionary cousins.

If Tabun C1 and others from the Qesem and Zuttiyeh caves were indeed members of the Nesher Ramla Homo group, this reanalysis would explain some inconsistencies in their anatomy previously noted by researchers.

The mysterious Nesher Ramla Homo may even represent our most recent common ancestor with Neanderthals. Its mix of traits supports genetic evidence that early gene flow between H. sapiens and Neanderthals occurred between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago. In other words, that interbreeding between the different Homo populations was more common than previously thought.

Even more puzzling, the team also found a collection of some 6,000 stone tools at the Nesher Ramla site.

These tools were made the same way contemporaneous H. sapiens groups made their technology, with the similarity so strong it appears the two populations—Nesher Ramla Homo and H. sapiens—were hanging out on a regular basis. It seems they weren’t just exchanging genes but also tips on toolmaking.


The site also produced bones of animals caught, butchered, and eaten on-site. These findings indicate Nesher Ramla Homo hunted a range of species, including tortoise, gazelle, aurochs, boar, and ostrich.

Furthermore, they were using fire to cook their meals, evident through the uncovering of a campfire feature the same age as the fossils. Indeed, the Nesher Ramla Homo were not only collecting wood to make campfires and cook, but also actively managing their fires as people do today.

While the earliest indications of controlled use of fire is much older—perhaps 1 million years ago—the interesting thing about this particular campfire is the evidence that Nesher Ramla people tended to it as carefully as contemporary H. sapiens and Neanderthals did their own fires.

Most impressive is that the campfire feature survived, intact, outside of a protected cave environment for so long. It is now the oldest intact campfire ever found in the open air.

In sum, if we think of the story of human evolution like an Ikea bookcase that isn’t quite coming together, this discovery is effectively like finding the missing shelf buried at the bottom of the box. The new Nesher Ramla Homo allows for a better-fitting structure, although a few mysterious “extra” pieces remain to be pondered over.

For example, exactly how did the different Homo groups interact with one another? And what does it mean for the cultural and biological changes that were occurring for Homo populations in this period?

Continuing to work with these questions (the “extra pieces”) will help us build a better understanding of our human past.”


Supporting BBC video presentation

Understanding the origins of the great schisms in the early Christian church “movement”

Why the councils of Nicea in 325AD and 787AD are so important to understand in respect to how Christianity is “mostly” practiced in our time

I understand that it is “risky business” to bring forward a subject of this type in these times. What I am attempting to do is to draw together information that might help “ordinary” people to better understand the political evolution of Christianity as it seems to exist today. I have elected to take the simplest method that I can in order to convey my message. I am not pretending that the contents of this blog are authoritative!

You will find that I have attached two files to this blog. File 1 provides insight into the “inner workings” of both councils. I have done this in case my readers have little knowledge about what both of these councils were all about. File 2 is much more comprehensive document that I have cut and pasted from a major work that I located online several years ago. This file is the defining document of this blog.

I consider that the first council of Nicea is the more important of both these religious assemblies. I say this for the following quoted reason. [I have italicised and emboldened the text that I feel you should most consider].


The Council of Nicea was a landmark in several ways. It is generally thought of as the first ecumenical council, because it was the first council which brought together representatives from throughout Christendom, including those of opposing theological viewpoints. And it is theologically significant in that the doctrine of the Trinity emerged from the council as a mark of orthodoxy which still holds to this day.

But perhaps of even greater significance is that it was the first church council sanctioned by the ruling political entity. The emperor’s role in the council seems to have been nothing but positive, but the council signaled the beginning of an often stormy relationship between church and state which was to dominate the course of western history for over a thousand years until the Reformation in the 16th century. The relationship between church and state has continued to be an important political issue to the present day. Although there were unquestionable benefits to the church-state relationship, such as an end of persecution and freedom to proselytize, there were also some negative aspects. In particular, a potential for doctrinal despotism was created. With the support of the state, the church was able to dictate orthodoxy and to enforce conformity by making it a crime to express anything, publicly or privately, which contradicted the official position. This was to have a chilling effect on freedom of religion and freedom of expression, and would in time lead to rampant corruption. The church which had once been persecuted now became the persecutor. The Reformation, in which millions of believers seceded from the Catholic Church, was the eventual result. But at Nicea, at least, there was cause for celebration for the “army of martyrs” who were in attendance.”

Item 1: The introductory file

Item 2: The primary discussion document [written by various different authors]