Scientists have unearthed a jawbone from an ancient human ancestor in a cave in Serbia.
The jawbone, which may have come from an ancient Homo erectus or a primitive-looking Neanderthal precursor, is more than 397,000 years old, and possibly more than 525,000 years old. The fossil, described today (Feb. 6) in the journal PLOS ONE, is the oldest hominin fossil found in this region of Europe, and may change the view that Neanderthals, our closest extinct human relatives, evolved throughout Europe around that time.
“It comes from an area where we basically don’t have anything that is known and well- published,” said study co-author Mirjana Roksandic, a bioarchaeologist from the University of Winnipeg in Canada. “Now we have something to start constructing a picture of what’s happening in this part of Europe at that time.” Read more.
The twee town of Torquay, on England’s Devon coast, has two major claims to fame: It was the birthplace and longtime home of mystery writer Agatha Christie, and it’s the home of Kents Cavern, one of the United Kingdom’s most important archaeological sites. Last year, researchers reported that an upper jaw found in the cave could be the oldest modern human fossil in Europe. But a new study questions that claim, arguing that the date of the jawbone may never be known with certainty. The controversy has an important bearing on debates about the spread of Homo sapiens out of Africa.
“One bad date can rewrite the entire prehistory of our species in Europe,” says Paul Pettitt, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and co-author of the new study, which is in press at the European Journal of Archaeology. Read more.
KENNEWICK, Wash. — A human jawbone found in the Columbia River near Kennewick has been determined to be Native American, 150 to 200 years old.
The determination was made by an anthropologist hired by the Corps of Engineers.
The corps owns the property where the lower jawbone with six teeth was found in October, in the same general area where the 9,300-year-old Kennewick Man skeleton was found in 1996.
The Tri-City Herald reports the corps has consulted with several tribes who may claim the jawbone after a legal notification.
Tribes also claimed Kennewick Man, but a court ruled those bones may remain at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington for scientific study about the earliest people in North America. (source)
Re-dating of a fossil human jawbone from a cave in England may help answer questions about the advent and spread of modern humans in Europe.
First excavated in 1927 from the limestone context of Kent’s Cavern in southwestern England, the fragment of a modern human upper jaw bone (maxilla) containing three teeth was dated by Oxford University scientists in 1989 to about 35,000 B.P.
But there was a fly in the ointment.
The specimen had traces of modern glue on the surface, a result of the efforts to conserve the bone after discovery. This, according to scientists who examined the maxilla at a later time, would skew any results from dating the object.
Said Beth Shapiro, Shaffer Associate Professor of Biology at Penn State University and a member of a new research team examining the jawbone, ”we knew we were going to have to do additional testing to re-date the bone.” Read more.
Authorities say a lower jawbone and loose teeth that were found in a bag at a trash collection site in northwestern Montana were those of a Chinese immigrant who was most likely working in the late 1800s as a miner or on the construction of the railroad.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department says the Montana State Crime Lab determined the likely origin of the remains after about two months of analysis. A University of Montana anthropologist helped with the investigation.
The bone was found in Trego on Aug. 22, and a search of the trash bins and the garbage truck that services the site didn’t turn up any other remains.
Before they bury the bone, authorities are seeking more information about how it ended up at the site. They also are stressing that this is not a criminal investigation. (source)
Federal archaeologists are investigating a very old jawbone that turned up Monday along the Columbia River in Kennewick. The human remains were found a short distance from where Kennewick Man was discovered in 1996.
Those ancient remains sparked a decade of legal conflict. But it’s too early to say what might happen this time around.
The jawbone with six worn teeth was spotted in shallow water by a jail work crew doing routine park cleanup. Kennewick Police and the Benton County, Washington coroner quickly determined the bone belongs to an adult human, but is too old to connect to any modern crime.
So archaeologists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took jurisdiction. They’re the landowner. Read more.