The jaw may represent the earliest presence of humans in Europe

news/tmb/2022/jawbone-may-represent-1.jpg" data-src="" data-sub-html="Comparison of the Banyoles mandible (center), with H. sapiens (left), and a Neandertal (right). Credit: Brian Keeling">

Comparison of the Banyoles mandible (center), with H. sapiens (left) and Neanderthals (right). Credit: Brian Keeling

For more than a century, one of the oldest human fossils ever found in Spain has been thought to be a Neanderthal. However, a new analysis by an international team of researchers, including scientists at Binghamton University, State University of New York, has debunked this age-old interpretation, showing that this fossil did not come from Neanderthals. Alternatively, it could actually represent the first known presence of Homo sapiens ever documented in Europe.

In 1887, mandibular fossils were discovered during excavations in the town of Banyoles, Spain, and have been studied by various researchers over the past century. The Banyul fossils probably date from around 45,000 to 65,000 years ago, to the time Neanderthals occupied Europe, and most researchers generally attribute this to this. Sea.

Inversion says Brian, a graduate student at Binghamton University.

The new study is based on hypothetical techniques, including tomography of the original crater. This is used to physically reconstruct the missing parts of the fossil and then create a 3D model for analysis on a computer.

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New research by anthropology professor Ruffel Quame and graduate student Brian Keeling of Binghamton University sheds light on the long-studied origins of jawbone fossils. The fossil was discovered in Banyols, Spain in 1887 and has long been thought to belong to Neanderthals. This new research points to a possible relationship with Homo sapiens, making him the oldest human ever recorded in Europe. Credits: Binghamton University, State University of New York

The authors studied the expression of distinctive features in the banyul jaw that differed between our own species, Homo sapiens, and Neanderthals, our closest evolutionary cousins.

The authors applied a methodology known as ‘3D geometric morphometry’ which analyzes the geometric properties of bone shapes. This allows the common form of the joke to be directly compared to Neanderthals and H. sapiens.

“Our results uncovered something surprising: Banyul did not have distinct Neanderthal characteristics and did not overlap with Neanderthals in general morphology,” Keeling said.

While the Banyoles appear to be closest to Homo sapiens both in the expression of individual characteristics and in their general form, many of these characteristics were shared by earlier human species, complicating Homo sapiens’ immediate task. Additionally, Banyoles lack chins, which is one of the most distinctive features of the lower jaw in Homo sapiens.

“We were faced with discoveries that told us Banyul was not a Neanderthal, but the fact that he had no chin made us think twice before establishing him as Homo sapiens,” said Rolf Kwam, a professor of anthropology at Binghamton. . State University. New York University. “Having chins has long been considered a hallmark of our species.”

news/tmb/2022/jawbone-may-represent.jpg" data-src="" data-sub-html="Map of the Iberian Peninsula indicating the location where the Banyoles mandible (yellow star) was found, along with Late Pleistocene Neandertal (orange triangles) and Homo sapiens (white squares) sites. Credit: Brian Keeling">

Map of the Iberian peninsula showing the location where mandibular Banyoles (yellow star) were found, along with Late Pleistocene Neanderthals (orange triangle) and Homo sapiens (white square). Credit: Brian Keeling

That said, access to A Scientific consensus In the species represented by Banyoles it is a challenge. The authors also compared Banyoles with the mandibles of early Homo sapiens from a site called Peştera cu Oase in Romania.

Unlike Banyoles, this jawbone exhibits a full chin with some Neanderthal features, and ancient DNA analysis reveals that this individual had Neanderthal ancestors four to six generations ago. Because the mandibular panniul didn’t share any distinguishing features with Neanderthals, the researchers ruled out a mixture of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens to explain the anatomy.

The authors point out that some of the oldest Homo sapiens fossils from Africa, which date back more than 100,000 years before the Babylonian era, show a less prominent chin than living populations.

So these scientists developed two possibilities that the Banyul jaw could represent: members of a previously unknown group of Homo sapiens that coexisted with Neanderthals. or hybrids between members of this group Homo sapiens and non-Neanderthal human species. In Pagnol’s time, however, the only fossils recovered in Europe were from Neanderthals, making the latter hypothesis even less likely.

news/tmb/2022/jawbone-may-represent-2.jpg" data-src="" data-sub-html="Reconstruction of the 3D model of the Banyoles mandible. Highlighted piece in blue indicates a mirrored element. Left: lateral view of the Banyoles mandible during the alignment process. Center: lateral view of the Banyoles mandible after joining the two pieces together. Right: superior view of the mandible after reconstruction. Credit: Brian Keeling">
The jaw may represent the earliest presence of humans in Europe

3D model reconstruction of the Banyoles mandible. The piece highlighted in blue shows the inverted element. Left: Lateral view of the mandibular pannus during the alignment process. Middle: Lateral view of the mandible in the pannulis after the two halves have been joined. Right: top view of the mandible after reconstruction. Credit: Brian Keeling

“If the ape is indeed a member of our species, then this prehistoric man would represent the earliest documented Homo sapiens in Europe,” Keeling said.

Whichever species possessed these mandibles, the Banyul was definitely not a Neanderthal at a time when Neanderthals were thought to be Europe’s only concern.

The author concludes that “the current situation makes Banyolis A main filter for the analysis of ancient DNA or proteins, which can shed light on their taxonomic relationships.

The authors plan to make Pagnol CT scans and 3D models available for other researchers to freely access and include in future comparative studies, thus increasing free access for me fossil specimens and reproduction of scientific studies.

The paper, “Re-evaluation of the human mandible from Banyoles (Girona, Spain)” was published in Journal of Human Evolution.

further information:
Brian A. Keeling et al, Human Mandibular Reassessment from Banyoles (Girona, Spain), Journal of Human Evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2022.103291

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