Archaeologists Discover 1.4 Million-Year-Old Jawbone In Spain

Archaeologists have uncovered the fragments of a jawbone that they believe to be 1.4 million years old and belong to the oldest known human relative. The discovery was made in the Atapuerca Mountains near the city of Burgos in northern Spain.

The discovered jawbone fragment is believed to be 1.4 million years old
The discovered jawbone fragment is believed to be 1.4 million years old

Spanish paleontologists said on Friday that the jawbone fragment found in northern Spain last month could be the oldest known fossil of a human ancestor ever found in Europe.

Experts working on the project have said that the fossil found at an archaeological site on June 30 is approximately 1.4 million years old.

Until this most recent discovery, the oldest hominid fossil found in Europe was another jawbone which was found at the same site back in 2007 and was determined to be 1.2 million years old.

Atapuerca has the highest amount of records of prehistoric human occupation in the whole of Europe.

Palaeoanthropologist Jose-Maria Bermudez de Castro, the co-director of the Atapuerca research project, said that researchers now have the task of "completing" their first estimate for the age of the jawbone using scientific dating techniques.

He added that as the most recent jawbone fragment was found around two meters below the layer of earth where the first jawbone was found in 2007, "it is logical and reasonable to think it is older."

The scientific dating process to be carried out on the jawbone fragment will be done at the National Centre for Research on Human Evolution in Burgos.

Atapuerca Mountains
Atapuerca Mountains

Bermudez de Castro said that the whole process will likely take between six and eight months to complete.

Researchers are hoping that this latest study will help to identify which hominid species the jawbone fragment belongs to and to give them a better understanding of how human beings evolved on the European continent. So far, scientists have been unable to confirm with certainty which species the earlier jawbone found in 2007 belongs to.

The fossil could have related to the species called Homo antecessor, discovered in the 1990s. The Atapuerca Foundation which runs the archaeological site where the fragments were found, said in a statement, that it is "very likely" that the jawbone fragment "belongs to one of the first populations that colonized Europe."

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