ANTHROPOLOGISTS delving into a cave in northeastern Spain announced today they had uncovered the earliest known remains of a human in Europe, a find that they dated to as much as 1.2 million years old.
The exceptional fossil strengthens the theory that humans, after emerging from their African home, struck out towards western Europe far earlier than thought, they said.The find comprises teeth and part of a lower jawbone about four centimetres across, found in the Atapuerca hills east of the city of Burgos, the team reported in the science journal Nature.
The site, called the Sima del Elefante, comprises a cave 18m deep and 15m wide, with sediment and debris from ancient human settlement, bats and other animals forming layers many metres thick deep.
The soil layer at which the fossil was found has been dated to around 1.1-1.2 million years ago, using carbon isotope decay and palaeo-magnetism, in which reversals in Earth’s magnetic field leave a weak signal in rocks, providing a timetable of the past.
Lucy from Ethiopia (Utopia, in your good books) is still the oldest human. This was possibly one of the oldest white people (who like stuff like this).