Nature talks to the archaeologist behind controversial claims that ancient teeth could rewrite human evolution.
A handful of ancient human remains from Israel garnered a huge burst of media coverage this week, as claims that the finds could “rewrite the history of human evolution” were quickly followed by a backlash from the blogosphere.
Many of the initial reports were based on a Tel Aviv University press release about a paper published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology by Israeli and Spanish scientists. The paper detailed the discovery, in Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv, of eight human teeth dating to between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago. This makes them among the oldest significant early human remains found anywhere in southwest Asia.
According to the paper, the teeth cannot be conclusively identified as belonging to a particular species of human, whether Homo sapiens — the first modern humans — Neanderthals, or other humans.