News / Science & Technology

Skulls Shine New Light on Human Evolution

  • Skull #9, (Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films)
  • Skull 17 from the Sima de los Huesos site in Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain. (Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films)
  • Discovery of skull 17 at the Sima de los Huesos site. (Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films)
  • The Sima de los Huesos site. (Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films)
  • Professor Juan Luis Arsuaga. (Image © Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films)
  • The Sima de los Huesos team. (Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films)

Neandertal Evolution

VOA News
The largest human fossil collection ever discovered at a single site has shed new light on the origin and evolution of Neanderthals, a distinct species of ancient humans.  The collection includes seventeen skulls from the Sima de los Huesos (Pit of Bones) cave in Northern Spain. 

Described in the journal Science, the fossils represent the earliest set of Neanderthal-like traits dating back 430,000 years ago or 100,000 years earlier than previously reported.  

The skulls show Neanderthal features in the face and teeth, but not, in the braincase.  This combination of features is normally associated with more primitive hominids.  The samples support the idea that evolutionary changes emerged at different times and not all at once.  The work suggests that facial modification, particularly related to chewing, was the first step in Neanderthal evolution.   

Lead author Juan-Luis Arsuago, Professor of Paleontology at the Complutense University of Madrid was surprised how similar the different individuals were.

“The other fossils of the same geological period are different and don’t fit in the Sima pattern,“ he said. “This indicates that more than one evolutionary lineage appears to have co-existed at the same time, with the Sima site representing one closer to the Neanderthal.”

Sima de Los Huesos has been excavated continuously since the early 1980s with the recovery of nearly 7,000 human fossils and 28 complete skeletons.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hal Umberger from: New York City
June 21, 2014 9:45 PM
Fascinating! Great story.


by: Zoran from: Belgrade
June 20, 2014 6:03 AM
Lots of people today have so called "Neanderthal" features, all of them European origin: brothers Klichko, Liam Neeson, Valuev...
No one think they are ugly or stupid it is opositte.
I think that there is no separate species, it is the same human skulls or Homo Sapiens.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid