Oldest Human Fossil Found Outside Africa

A human fossil found in Isreal in 2002 now shows that humans may have left Africa up to 100,000 years earlier than originally thought. Researchers spent one and a half decades studying an upper jawbone and stone tools found in a cave in Isreal.

The jawbone was found with teeth that were thought to be between 170 000 and 190 000 years old.  CT scans helped to build a 3D model, which researchers then compared with other fossils from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The tools found nearby suggest that prehistoric people were busy making various objects that they used for hunting animals and gathering.  While some scientists say that the tools could only have been made by homo sapiens, modern people, others do not ignore the fact that Neanderthals could also have made them.

Up to now, the oldest fossils found outside Africa were also located in Israel. According to archaeologists, they were no more than 90,000 to 120,000 years old.

The new discovery also sets back the date at which homo sapiens appeared in Africa. While the current theory says that they originated in Africa 200,000 years ago, we now may believe that they actually showed up between 300,000 and 500,000 years ago. If that is true, then they probably left Africa on short trips to other continents as early as 200,000 years ago.


Skull of a Homo Sapiens
Skull of a Homo Sapiens – Image: Dr. Günter Bechly


  • according to = as said by …
  • appear = show up; start to exist
  • archaeologist = a person who studies ancient civilisations by looking at what is left of buildings, tools etc..
  • cave = a large natural hole in the side of a hill or mountain
  • compare = to look at two or more things and find out the differences between them
  • CT scan = an  examination in which the inside of an object  is produced on a computer using x-rays
  • current = now
  • decade = ten years
  • discovery = finding something for the first time
  • fossil = an animal or plant that lived many thousands of years ago and that has been preserved in rock
  • gathering = to look for plants to eat
  • homo sapiens = modern man; the type of human that exists now
  • humans = people
  • ignore = pay no attention to …
  • jawbone = one of the bones that are in your teeth
  • located = found
  • Neanderthal = early type of human being who lived in Europe during the Stone Age
  • originally = at first
  • originate = come from
  • prehistoric people = people who lived a long time ago, before anything was written down
  • researcher = someone who studies a subject in detail in order to find out more about it
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • skull = the bones of a person’s head
  • stone tools = early tools that the first people made out of stone; they were used for hunting, gathering food and making fire
  • suggest = to say that something may be true
  • various = different kinds of …



Iran Bans English From Primary Schools

Iran’s government has banned English from primary school classrooms in an attempt to fight Western influences. The country has been blaming the West for protests and demonstrations that have been staged throughout the country in the past months.

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has repeatedly blamed the spread of English in schools for destabilizing his country. Authorities say that teaching English at an early age makes it possible for pupils to adopt the culture of Western societies. They state that primary education is the basis of Iranian culture and should be free of Western values.

English language lessons generally start in middle schools, with students aged between 12 and 14. Recently, however, more and more primary schools have been offering English lessons. It has also spread to some of the country’s nursery schools too.

The new ban only applies to the first years of education, where all lessons will be in Persian, the country’s official language.


Primary school class in Tehran
Primary school class in Tehran – Image: Farzad Khorasani


  • adopt = here: to use; take on; let something into your country
  • apply = here: where the ban is in effect
  • attempt = try to do something
  • authorities = government organisations that have the power to decide things
  • ban = forbid; not allow
  • blame = to say or think that you are responsible for something bad that has happened
  • destabilize = when a government has problems controlling events that happen there
  • generally = normally
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • influence = power to affect the way something changes or develops
  • nursery school = kindergarten; school for children between 3 and 5 or 6
  • official language = the language that all the people in a country speak
  • primary school = the first years of education; usually between 5 and 11
  • recently = a short time ago
  • repeatedly = over and over again
  • society = the way people live in a country
  • spread = when something moves from one place to another
  • stage = organize
  • supreme = highest
  • throughout = all across the country
  • values = the things you believe in

Europe’s Muslim Population Will Continue to Grow

Over the next few decades, Europe’s Muslim population is expected to continue growing.  A study estimates that by 2050 the Muslim population could grow to 58 million, or 11 % of the total European population, compared to 5 % today.

The study conducted by Pew research, is based on census and immigration data from  30 countries. It created three scenarios. In the first scenario, Muslim immigration into Europe would come to a complete halt.  Even then, the Muslim population would rise to 7.4 %. This is because Muslims, on average,  are 13 years younger than Europeans and have a higher birth rate.

On the other side, a high migration scenario is based on the flow of refugees from 2015- 2016 and expects it to continue. If this happens, the total Muslim population in Europe will rise to 75 million, about 14% of the total population.

According to the Pew report, not all countries will be affected evenly by future Muslim immigration.  Germany and Sweden will see the biggest increases because these two countries accepted most asylum seekers during the 2015-2016 refugee crisis.

At the moment, Germany (5 million) and France (5.7 Million)  have the largest Muslim populations in Europe.

The recently published study is likely to cause more debate on immigration into Europe.  It cites instability in the Middle East and Northern Africa as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria as the main factors that drive people to European countries.  In the last 6 years seeking asylum in conflict regions was the most important motive for Muslims coming to Europe. Only few came to Europe for employment or education.


Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisi
Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisis – Image: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed


  • according to = as reported by …
  • affect = here: changed by the situation
  • asylum seeker = person who leaves their country because they are in danger, mostly for political reasons, and asks another country to let them live there
  • birthrate = the number of births for every 1,000 people in a year
  • census = official counting of a country’s population
  • cite = mention
  • compared = to look at two things in a similar way
  • conduct = carry out
  • data = information
  • debate = discussion
  • decade = ten years
  • employment = job, work
  • factor = reason
  • flow = steady movement of people
  • estimate = to calculate how big something will be  based on the information that you have
  • halt = stop
  • immigration = when you go to another country and plan to live there permanently
  • increase = to go up
  • instability = when the situation in a country is not stable because of war or other conflicts
  • is based on = use something as the starting point for your research
  • is expected to = will probably
  • motive = reason
  • ongoing conflict = here: conflict or war that is continuing
  • refugee = people who have to leave their home because of war or a natural disaster
  • rise = go up
  • scenario = situation that could possibly happen
  • study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a subject

Mysterious Chamber Discovered in Egyptian Pyramid

A mysterious chamber in an  Egyptian pyramid has been recently discovered by scientists. A special technique shows a  large void hidden in the Great Pyramid of Giza  near Cairo

The ScansPyramid project, led by the University of Cairo and the Egyptian government,  uses advanced technology to find out more about ancient structures. Scientists from Egypt, France and Japan installed special detectors which could detect small particles called muons. These are a type of cosmic rain which constantly falls down on the earth. Three separate teams have conducted the research and have found the same cavity in the pyramid.

The newly found chamber in the Egyptian pyramid is 30 metres long and about the size of the Grand Gallery which is a known passageway that leads to the King’s Chamber. However, nothing else is known about the new room. It is also impossible to reach the space as there is no passage that leads to it. Experts also warn against having great expectations about new discovery inside the cavity.  It is possible that the void does not have any meaning at all and was just left there for construction reasons.

The Great Pyramid, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, was built at around 2650 BC. after the death of the pharaoh. It is the largest of the three remaining pyramids at Giza, which belong to the wonders of the ancient world.

The Great Pyramid at Giza -
The Great Pyramid at Giza – Image: Nina Aldin Thune


  • advanced technology = modern and complicated machines and tools
  • ancient = old; from a long time ago
  • cavity = hole
  • chamber = room
  • conduct = carry out
  • cosmic = coming from space
  • detector = a machine that finds or measures something
  • discover = find something for the first time
  • expectation = here: what you think or hope you will find
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • however = but
  • mysterious = difficult to understand and explain
  • particle = very small piece of something
  • passageway = long narrow area in a building; corridor or hallway
  • pharaoh = king in ancient Egypt
  • recently = a short time ago
  • remaining = … which still exists
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • structure = any kind of building
  • technique = special way fo doing or finding  something
  • void = empty space in which nothing exists


Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Women Driving

The Saudi Arabian government has announced that  the country  will start allowing women to drive cars. The new law will be in effect starting in June 2018. At the moment, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not let women drive a car.  The driving ban has become a symbol of oppression in the kingdom.

In the past Saudi women have had to organize drivers to take them to places in everyday life. If caught  driving they risked  being arrested and were sometimes even punished. Women were not even allowed to have  a driving licence.

Countries around the world welcomed the step taken by Saudi king Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz. Many human rights groups have been fighting for women’s rights , including the right to drive, for years.

In the last few years, the Middle Eastern kingdom has been slowly granting women more rights in an attempt to open up to Western society. In 2015 , women, for the first time were allowed to vote and be candidates in local elections. Recently, the government announced that girls would be allowed to do sports and  take part in physical education lessons in school.

Still, Saudi Arabian society is deeply conservative. Women still need a man’s permission  to do certain  things, including  marrying or going abroad. Those who oppose the new law say that it would violate the sharia.

Saudi leaders hope that lifting the driving ban will let women take on a more more active role  in the country’s booming economy.



  • announce = to say something officially, in public
  • arrest = to take a person to the police station because they have done something wrong
  • attempt = try
  • ban = to forbid something
  • booming = when the economy increases and businesses are very successful
  • deeply = very much
  • driving licence = document that says you have the right to drive
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • grant = give, award
  • human rights group = group of people who want everyone to have basic rights, like the right to vote or the right to speak freely
  • including = also
  • in effect = here: to start being a law
  • kingdom = country ruled by a king or queen
  • lift = remove
  • local election = when you choose a person to have an official job in a city or town
  • oppose = to be against something
  • oppression =  to treat someone or a group of people in a bad way  and not let them have the same rights as others
  • permission = to be officially allowed to do something
  • physical education = sports taught in school as a subject
  • sharia = a system of religious laws followed by Muslims
  • violate= here: to break the law
  • vote = to choose someone for an official position
  • welcome = to be glad that something has happened