Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Oldest Human Fossil in Western Europe Found in Spain

An international team of researchers have announced the discovery of the oldest hominin (early or archaic human) fossil ever found in Western Europe, pushing back the clock on when early humans first colonized Western Europe after their exodus from Africa.

The find, a fossil tooth (molar) uncovered through excavations at the site of Barranco León in the Orce region of southeastern Spain, was dated to about 1.4 million years ago using several combined dating techniques, including Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) in combination with paleomagnetic and biochronological data.  
"While the range of dates obtained from these various methods overlaps with those published for the Sima del Elefante hominin locality (1.2 Ma), the overwhelming majority of evidence points to an older age," reports study author Dr. Isidro-Moyano and colleagues. "Thus, at the moment, the Barranco León hominin is the oldest from Western Europe."* Until now, Sima del Elefante, a rockshelter located in the Sierra de Atapuerca mountain range of northern Spain, held the record for the earliest human fossils in Western Europe.
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