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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs