Thursday, March 27, 2008

1.3 Million Year Old Humans in Spain

Foxnews is reporting the discovery of a partial mandible at the Spanish site of Atapuerca is 1.3 million years old this is being lumped in with the species found in 1997, Homo antecessor. The jury is still out on whether that is a good taxonomic designation, but it is encouraging that more hominid fossils are turning up here at this fantastic cache of fossils. The story notes:

Carbonell's team has tentatively classified the new fossil as representing an earlier example of Homo antecessor. And, critically, the team says the new one also bears similarities to much-older fossils dug up since 1983 in the Caucasus at a place called Dmanisi, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

These were dated as being up to 1.8 million years old.

"This leads us to a very important, very interesting conclusion," Carbonell said. It is this: that hominins which emerged from Africa and settled in the Caucasus eventually evolved into Homo antecessor, and that the latter populated Europe not 800,000 years ago, but at least 1.3 million years ago.

The thinking goes that these hominids then led eventually to Neandertals. Not sure about that one yet.

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