Fossil suggests earliest known movement of humans out of Africa

An ancient skull bone unearthed in Greece, overlooked for decades in an Athens museum, may be the earliest known evidence of modern humans outside Africa, a new study says.

The cranium dates to more than 210,000 years ago, older than any other fossil of Homo sapiens known in Eurasia, according to a research team led by paleoanthropologist Katerina Harvati at Germany’s Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. The researchers published their analysis of the Greek fossils Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The new finding suggests that our direct ancestors tried repeatedly to move into Europe and Asia, where other early human species already had settled, before finally securing a lasting homeland there, several experts in human origins said. Modern humans did not replace Neanderthals across Europe until about 45,000 years ago.

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