Questions for “Fossils unearthed in Israel reveal possible new human ancestor”

jaw and skull bones from the Nesher Ramla site on a white background

These parts of a jaw (left) and a skull (right), come from Israel’s Nesher Ramla site. The fossils represent an ancient hominid population. It contributed to the evolution of European Neandertals and possibly some ancient Homo groups in East Asia, researchers say.

Avi Levin and Ilan Theiler/Sackler Faculty of Medicine/Tel Aviv Univ.

To accompany “Fossils unearthed in Israel reveal possible new human ancestor


Before Reading:

1.  In Homo sapiens, which is the genus name and which is the species name? Do you know of any other members of this genus?

2.  Roughly speaking, when was the Stone Age and how did it get its name?

During Reading:

1.  Where is Nesher Ramla and what did an Israeli team find there?

2.  How old are those fossils?

3.  What are hominids? Name at least three types

4.  Why did the Israeli team not suggest a species name for the new hominid it found?

5.  According to the story, in what way has the human family tree become more complicated in the past few years?

6.  Why do the new studies argue that there must have been some social mixing between the new hominid and our species? What evidence do they give?

7.  What clues did the researchers find suggesting the newfound hominids ate big game?

After Reading:

1.  Do some research on what it means to be human, such as at the Smithsonian Institution’s webpage. Why do you think there are so many different numbers of human species given? (Hint: Consider what you’ve read in the story and compare it to the definition of species used by Science News for Students.)

Lillian Steenblik Hwang is the associate digital editor for Science News for Explores. She has a bachelor's degree in biology (and a minor in chemistry) from Georgia State University and a master's degree in in science journalism from Boston University.