50,000-Year-Old Homo Sapiens Bones Uncovered In Siberia May Be ‘Oldest’ Bones Outside Africa

Excavations at an archaeological site in Siberia has revealed what scientists are referring to as the oldest known Homo Sapiens’ bones ever discovered outside of Africa and the Middle East.

Image Credit: Evgeniy Rogovskoi

The human remains are now undergoing scientific studies at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

The Archaeological site of Buryatia in Siberia could help experts understand the origin and development of mankind in Siberia. If the bones are confirmed, it will change the way scientists think about human migration in Siberia.

The discovery of the remains was made in the Tunkinskaya Valley by Irkutsk scientists in 2016, reports the Siberian Times.

Archaeologists explain that the oldest bones, believed to date back to around 50,000 years ago, were discovered with remains of younger bones, around 40,000 years old, as well as a number of ancient tools and animal bones. 

Scientists explain that the discovery indicates that the people inhabiting the region tens of thousands of years ago were talented hunters.

Ancient people in Siberia hunted cave lions, bison, horses and deer. Archaeologists have already recovered a plethora of artifacts including large knives and spears at the site. The weapons and tools were crafted using semi-precious topaz and rock crystal. 

Archaeologists also discovered an amulet made out of a cave lion tooth.

Dr. Evgeniy Rogovskoi, a senior researcher Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained that: ‘The bones were found in 2016 during archeological rescue works near the Buryatian village of Tunka. Work on constructing a new road was about to start, so archeologists rushed here to see if they could take any material from the site.”

“The bones were found within half a meter of the surface.  We have introduced them to the scientific community only now, two years after the find, because we have been waiting for test results on them. There were two sets of bones; one set was dated as 27,000 to 30,000 years old, the other as 50,000 years old,” he added.

But there’s a scientific dilemma surrounding the bones.

Do they really belong to Homo Sapiens? Or do they belong to an earlier species the Neanderthals?

Given the fact that Siberia is known for the Denisova Cave, where experts discovered ancient human remains belonging to the Denisovans, there’s a chance that the bones could belong to this ancient human species as well.

If these bones turn out to be the remains of Homo Sapiens, then scientists may have discovered the oldest Homo Sapiens bones in northern Eurasia. 

“More ancient bones were found (here), but these were not Homo sapiens,” explained Dr. Rogovskoi.

Earlier this year, archaeologists discovered remains belonging to Homo Sapiens in Morocco which were found to be at least 300,000 years old.

A cave in Israel also yielded a sensational discovery when scientists recovered a jawbone, they assume belonged to Homo Sapiens. The jawbone is believed to date back around 200,000 years.

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