A new study suggests that the Girona fossil could be the oldest skeletal remains in Europe attributed to an anatomically modern human
The hypothesis, published this Wednesday, will have to be confirmed with genetic studies
The banyoles jaw (Girona) belonged to a ‘Homo sapiens’ that inhabited this area of the Iberian Peninsula between 45,000 and 65,000 years ago, which makes it the Oldest skeletal remains in Europe attributed to the UN anatomically modern human. This was determined by a published this Wednesday in the scientific magazine ‘Journal of Human Evolution’, in which North American and Spanish scientific studies have contributed.
As reported by the Museum of Human Evolution in a press release, the banyoles jaw It was discovered in a quarry in 1887 and since then it has been studied by different researchers. The fossil has been dated between 45,000 years and 65,000 years ago, something that generated uncertainty among the experts, since it was expected that in that period of time Europe was only occupied by populations of Neanderthals. That is why the Banyoles mandible was evidently from that species, despite the fact that its morphology was not that of a typical Neanderthal.
In the new study, which uses images obtained by CT, the missing parts of the fossilso they could obtain a three-dimensional virtual model which has been compared to other fossils using a technique known as geometric morphometry. The paleontologist Juan Luis Arsuagaone of the experts has led this new analysis, has been categorical Regarding the conclusions of the study: «It is not a Neanderthal. It is in almost all its morphology a modern human«.
The expert, however, clarifies a fundamental aspect about the study of this enigmatic fossil. «The existence of a chin (or chin) is not appreciated, so it cannot be ruled out that he has some Neanderth ancestorI The fossil of ‘Homo sapiens’ considered until today the oldest in Europe was the one known as ‘Pestera cu Oase 1 in Romania’ but we we affirm that Banyoles is older«, says the expert in relation to the results of this new analysis.
Hypothesis to be confirmed
The authors of this study, which also include Ignacio Martínez, from the University of Alcalá de Henares, and Julià Maroto, from the University of Girona, indicate that the taxonomic reassignment (that is, the change of species) that they propose for the banyoles fossil must be verified by ancient DNA analysis. The classification of this mandible as a sample of the first Neanderthal from Europe, therefore, will have to be confirmed with other external examinations.
From now on, the team of researchers that has led this new study of the Banyoles mandible plans to make available to other researchers the results of the CT and the 3D model of so that, in the future, other teams can include them in future comparative studies, promoting the open access to fossil specimens and the replicability of this type of scientific studies.