Ancient teeth found in a cave near Rosh Ha’ayin in Israel may demonstrate that humanity developed first, not in Africa, but in the Middle East, reported Ynet this week. The 400,000-year-old teeth also surprisingly suggest that ancient man was vegetarian.
The Qesem Cave where the teeth were found was first excavated in 2000 and is 10 meters deep with a surface area approximately 300 square meters. It took 15 years of sifting to uncover the prehistoric remains. Scientists from Tel Aviv University and other research institutions from around the world were involved in the discovery.
Until now, researchers believed that human beings originated with Homo Sapiens in East Africa 200,000 years ago, while another group, Neanderthals, lived in Europe 300,000 years ago and later became extinct. The teeth from the Qesem cave, however, point to a type of prehistoric man previously unknown, living in Israel 200,000 years before that. They belong to a common ancestor of both groups.
Tests of the tartar on the teeth revealed remnants of seeds and coal particles, revealing that the new species’ diet was primarily vegetarian. Although he likely ate some meat, it was only a small amount.
Research done by Professor Avi Gopher, Professor Ran Barkai and Dr. Rachel Sarig of Tel Aviv University in collaboration with foreign researchers enabled the rapid discovery of the teeth’s composition.
According to Gopher, the cave has already provided some fascinating discoveries, including proof of routine use of fire to roast meat and evidence of tool recycling. “Now, with the discovery of the teeth, it provides early evidence of a species that is likely to be the ancestor of modern man in our region. This finding challenges the conventional view that Homo Sapiens originated in East Africa,” he said.
The teeth, says Gopher, “belong neither to our ancestor Homo Erectus nor to our brothers, the Neanderthals, but rather to a species belonging to a new lineage of man unknown until now.”
Gopher posited that the prehistoric being’s vegetarianism could be explained by the disappearance of elephants as a source of meat from the region. Another factor may have been the irritation caused by roasting meat in caves.
Although the fossil record suggests the Earth is far older than the 6,000 years the Bible states, there are scientists and Bible scholars who explain the seeming contradiction. One expert, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, uses physics to calculate that within the six days of creation described in the Bible, millions of years, measured by today’s standards, would have passed.