Researchers working in Israel have identified a previously unknown type of ancient human that lived alongside our species more than 100,000 years ago, APA reports citing BBC.
They believe that the remains uncovered near the city of Ramla represent one of the "last survivors" of a very ancient human group.
The finds consist of a partial skull and jaw from an individual who lived between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago.
Details have been published in the journal Science.
The team members think the individual descended from an earlier species that may have spread out of the region hundreds of thousands of years ago and given rise to Neanderthals in Europe and their equivalents in Asia.
The scientists have named the newly discovered lineage the "Nesher Ramla Homo type".
Dr Hila May of Tel Aviv University said the discovery reshapes the story of human evolution, particularly those of the Neanderthals. The general picture of Neanderthal evolution had in the past been linked closely with Europe.
"It all started in Israel. We suggest that a local group was the source population," she told BBC News. "During interglacial periods, waves of humans, the Nesher Ramla people, migrated from the Middle East to Europe."