Hershkovitz and other Israeli scientists, as well as anthropologists from the University of Vienna and the Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, used a barrage of high tech methods, including computer tomography, to study Manot in detail. They then compared this information with data on hundreds of other early human skulls to note differences and similarities.
"The shape analysis shows very clearly that Manot was a modern human," co-author Gerhard Weber of the University of Vienna said. "It is interesting that the most similar skulls in our sample come from recent Africans on the one hand, and on the other hand from those modern humans that lived in Europe between 20,000-30,000 years ago."
Manot is clearly much older than those Europeans, however, and even pre-dates the first known Homo sapiens in Europe by 10,000 years. This weakens theories that our species and Neanderthals first encountered each other in Europe.
Given the timing as well as Manot's mixture of features, Weber suspects "it could be that Manot is one of the hybrids," meaning part Homo sapiens and part Neanderthal. Other archaic human species lived in Europe and Asia then as well, so additional interbreeding might have taken place between these groups.