Just a very brief news item from Atapuerca in northern Spain, where recent excavations by team leaders Juan Luis Arsuaga and Ignacio Martínez working in Sima de los Huesos, have turned up some pretty impressive cranial material from H.heidelbergensis, dating back 500,000 years, a discovery which follows on from the 1.3 million year old partial humerus find in the Sima del Elefante, earlier in the year. (PDF)
Unlike the earlier discovery, and judging by the photo, there don’t appear to be any obvious butchery or cut marks on the latest skull fragments to be found, signs which in the past have been interpreted to mean that cannibalism was taking place at the site over many hundreds of years by different resident species of archaic humans.
Thus far, Neanderthals are the only archaic human species not to have been found at Atapuerca, but according to the linked article at El Mundo, there are hopes that clues to a Neanderthal presence may yet be detected in the Galería de las Estatuas, where ‘animal fossils and stone tools’ have been found – there is no description or dating as yet, but my guess would be that the archaeologists are hinting that the stone tools bear the hallmarks of Mousterian lithic culture.
(via Mundo Neandertal)
image: Skull 17, Sima de los Huesos from El Mundo, Javier Trueba