A 400,000-year-old hominid skull could shed light on the origin of Neanderthals

In Portugal, a fossilized hominid skull trapped in a block of stone was unearthed in 2014 and dated at 400,000 years old. It could make it possible to elucidate the evolution of the ancestors of humans in Europe, in particular the origin of the Neanderthals.

In the journal PNAS, an international team of researchers discovered a 400,000-year-old fossilized hominid skull, the oldest unearthed in the Iberian Peninsula. This discovery  » marks an important contribution to the understanding of human evolution during the so-called Middle Pleistocene period in Europe and in particular on the origin of the Neanderthals write the researchers.

If the evolution of the ancestors of human beings in Europe during this period is so vague, it is precisely because of the rarity and the uncertain dating of the fossils discovered until then, these scientists note, moreover, that this went from 200 000 to over 400,000 years ago. Here, this skull could be precisely dated at 400,000 years old thanks to the sediments and stalagmites in which it was trapped.

 » This new fossil is very interesting, because this region of Europe is crucial for understanding the origins and evolution of Neanderthal man. The skull, found in 2014 at the Aroeira site, indeed shares anatomical features with other fossils from the same period discovered in northern Spain, southern France and Italy. “Explains Rolf Quam, assistant professor of anthropology at Binghamton University (New York) and co-author of the study.

Therefore, this skull increases the anatomical diversity of the collection of hominid fossils from this period in Europe, suggesting that populations exhibited different combinations of morphological features adds Professor Quam.

If the sex and the species of the hominid could not be determined for the moment, the signs of wear presented by the skull as well as two teeth show that it is about an adult. Also, certain morphological details, such as bony thickening at the level of the eyebrows, are typical of what appears to be an ancestor of Neanderthal man write the researchers.

This new fossil will be at the center of an exhibition on human evolution next October at the National Museum of Archeology in Lisbon, Portugal.


Laisser un commentaire