The fossil was discovered in a quarry in 1887 and has been dated to between 45,000 years ago and 65,000 years ago.
- evolution Homo sapiens arose from at least four different lineages
- paleotologist In search of the lost relative of Neanderthals and sapiens
A team made up of researchers from Spain and the US, including the scientific director of the Museum of Human Evolution, Juan Luis Arsuagajust published in the magazine Journal of Human Evolution a new study on an enigmatic fossil: the human jawbone from the Banyolesin Girona.
The Banyoles jawbone was discovered in a quarry in 1887 and has been studied by different researchers ever since. The fossil has been dated between 45,000 years ago and 65,000 years ago.
Since Europe was previously thought to be occupied exclusively by Neanderthals in that time period, the Banyoles jawbone was assigned to that fossil species, despite the fact that its morphology was not that of a typical Neanderthal. The new research Has now cleared up that confusion. It was not a Neanderthal, but a Homo sapiens.
In the new study, which uses CT images, the missing parts of the fossil have been reconstructed on the computer. In this way, it has been possible to obtain a three-dimensional virtual model that has been compared with other fossils using a technique known as geometric morphometry.
Juan Luis Arsuaga is categorical regarding the species to which the Banyoles mandible belonged: “It’s not a Neanderthal. He is in almost all his morphology a modern human. However, the existence of a chin (chin) is not appreciated, so it cannot be ruled out that it has some Neanderthal ancestor. The fossil of Homo sapiens considered until today the oldest in Europe was Pestera cu Oase 1 in Romanianbut we affirm that Banyoles is older”.
“The comparative analysis of the morphological analysis of Banyoles has revealed that the fossil specimen shows several characteristics that are probably primitive expressions of the genus Homo“, indicates the work. The Girona fossil, concludes the research, “underlines the continuous signs of diversity in the human fossil record.”
The authors of the work are Brian A Keeling Y Rolf Quam from Binghampton University, Ignacio Martinez from the University of Alcalá, Juli Maroto of the University of Girona, and himself Juan Luis Arsuagafrom the Complutense University of Madrid and scientific director of the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos.
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The authors add that “taxonomic reassignment (species change) that they propose for Banyoles could be verified by means of analysis of ancient DNA or proteomics”.
The authors plan to make the CT and the 3D model of Banyoles available to other researchers so that they can include them in future comparative studies, promoting the open access to fossil specimens and the replicability of scientific studies.