London: In what could change the whole picture of human evolution, archaeologists claim that modern man may have evolved in the Middle East, rather than Africa, after they discovered remains said to be 400,000 years old.
A team, led by Prof Avi Gopher and Dr Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University, has in fact found eight human-like teeth in the Qesem cave near Rosh Ha`Ayin, 10 miles from Israel`s Ben Gurion airport.
According to them, the teeth were 400,000 years old, from the Middle Pleistocene Age, which would make them the earliest remains of homo sapiens yet discovered in the world, `The Daily Telegraph` reported.
If true it overturns the belief that homo sapiens, the direct descendant of modern man, evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago, say the archaeologists.
According to the "Out of Africa" theory, homo sapiens gradually migrated north, through the Middle East, to Europe and Asia between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago. But, in recent years discoveries in Spain and China have also questioned the theory that man originated in Africa.
The latest findings, published in the `American Journal of Physical Anthropology`, said the size and shape of the teeth were very similar to those of modern man.
The Israeli team also found evidence of the use of fire, hunting, and the cutting and mining of raw materials to produce flint tools, which suggested a sophisticated form of society.
However, they said that further research was needed to solidify their claim.