(ORDO NEWS) — For a long time, scientists believed that 50 thousand years ago, people of the modern type still rarely left Africa, so the “default” jaw found in southern Spain was considered Neanderthal. Now, however, they had to rethink their conclusions.
More than a century ago, in 1883, in the south of Spain, during mining in the city of Banyoles , they discovered the lower jaw of a hominid.
Scientists were able to determine the age of the find – about 45-65 thousand years. Since at that time Neanderthals mainly lived in Europe, the jaw was considered to belong to them.
However, anthropologists of the past cannot be blamed for inattention: the jaw lacked a diagnostic sign of a modern person – a developed chin protrusion , and it itself was not in the best condition.
Now, in order to once and for all establish the identity of the mysterious bone, scientists have turned to computed tomography and virtual reconstruction.
Comparing the Spanish jaw with other fossil jaws, the researchers found that the Banyoles Man looked more like a Cro-Magnon than a Neanderthal.
He was distinguished from real Homo sapiens only by a smooth chin, but there could be two explanations for this at once: either the ancestor of the “man from Banyoles” was a Neanderthal, or the chin of ancient Homo sapiens was less pronounced than that of modern people.
The first hypothesis was refuted quite easily: scientists already had the remains of the ancient Homo sapiens found in Romania, and analysis of its DNA showed that the ancestor of this person in the fourth or sixth generation was a Neanderthal.
However, the Banyoles jaw showed no signs of hybridization, so the researchers considered the most likely second hypothesis, according to which early Homo sapiens had a less pronounced chin.
The final point on this issue can be put by the analysis of the preserved DNA from the fossil jaw. If the assumptions of scientists are confirmed, the “man from Banyoles” will become the earliest representative of our species in Europe.
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