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The Significance of Skhul V Analysis


Hominid fossils can provide biologists with the crucial insights into the ancestral background of modern humans. The Skhul V specimen was found in 1932 by Theordore McCown and Hallum Movius Jr (Homo Sapiens: Skhul V). The location of the finding served as the inspiration for the fossil’s name. In the Skhul Cave, Israel, McCown and Movius discovered an adult male’s cranium and mandible that dated back to 90,000 BC (Fossils: Skhul V). The Skhul V specimen was recovered along with the bodies of nine other people, including children (Fossils: Skhul V). The discovery of this fossil led to various scientific debates regarding the origin and evolutionary background of Skhul residents (Sutcliffe). The specimen helped scientists to further research the relationship between Tabun Neantherdals and anatomically modern human population of Skhul.

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The Skhul V specimen is essentially the cranium and mandible of an adult male that are now heavily reconstructed due to the poor preservation. Both the cranium and mandible are asymmetrical since the right side is bigger than the left (Homo Sapiens: Skhul V). The palate of the specimen is deep, with steep sides (Homo Sapiens: Skhul V). The anatomical structure suggests that “teeth continued to erupt as they were being worn down” (Homo Sapiens: Skhul V). The overall look of the fossil is reflective of the harsh conditions and poor preservation of the specimen.


The scientific community responded to the finding with new theories. The majority of them was based on the research that concluded that the specimen’s age is 40,000 years (Fossils: Skhul V). Therefore, evolutionary biologists started to argue that “Neanderthal fossils found at the nearby fossil site of Tabun Cave must be older than the modern Homo sapiens population of Skhul” (Fossils: Skhul V). In turn, this led to more discussions focused on the fact that Tabun Neantherdals could be the evolutionary ancestors of Skhul Homo sapiens. However, after Skhul V was examined using the improved dating techniques, its age turned out to be 90,000 years (Fossils: Skhul V). This meant that modern human populations lived at the same time as Tabun Neantherdals. Therefore, humanoid species did not simply follow one another chronologically (Sutcliffe). Moreover, Tabun Neantherdals could not have been modern humans’ ancestors in the Near East.


Since the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin, scientists have debated the relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans. Anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have been trying to come up with a definitive answer as to the chronological order of humanoid species. However, the reality has turned out to be far more complex. A particular Skhul fossil found on Israel’s Mount Carmel has proven that humanoid species did not follow each other one by one. Rather, they managed to coexist and cooperate despite the modern perception of ones (Neanderthals) being inferior to others (Homo sapiens). The Skhul V specimen serves as a concrete piece of evidence that suggests that Homo sapiens have not followed a conventional pattern of migration out of Africa. Moreover, the ancestor to modern humans coexisted with other humanoid species (Neanderthals, in particular). The finding of Skhul V also suggested that Tabun Neanderthals had not been the ancestors of modern humans in the Near East.

Works Cited

Fossils: Skhul V. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 2020,Web.

Homo Sapiens: Skhul V. The University of Texas Austin, 2020. Web.

Sutcliffe, Theodora. “When Neanderthals Replaced Us.” Discover Magazine, 2016, Web.

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