Unit 11: The First Hominins in Europe
Homo Erectus and H. Heidelbergensis
What about Europe?
- Some form of H. erectus arrives by 1,400,000 bp.
- Then H. heidelbergensis arrives around 500,000
- And eventually Modern Humans arrive 40,000 bp.
o Gran Dolina & Sima del Elefante, Atapuerca, Spain
o Orce, Spain
- Venta Micena (1.6 mya)
o Cranial fragments
o But open to question whether bones are hominin or not
o No stone tools
- Barranco Leon (1.4 mya)
o No hominin remains but stone tools
o Dated by various methods
Small mammal biochronology
Atapuerca Hills, Spain
- A rail line was cut through the hill in the late 1800s
o Gran Dolina
1993 Test evacuation
2002 Formal excavations at Gran Dolina, Atapuerca
Layer 6: Radiometric (absolute) dates and paleomagnetism
suggest these remains are 800-875,000 years old
But stone tools from older layer approx. 1 mya
How can we use this to date sites?
Sediments settle on ground- iron-based particles
align with current magnetic pole
When sediments become compacted their
orientation becomes locked in
o Sima del Elefante
Very well dated
Layer 9 is 10 levels below(older than) the
Bruhnes/Matuyama boundary (780 kya)
Small mammals from level 9 are species well dated
to between 1-1.5 mya
Optical stimulation date for level 9 is 1.22 +/- 0.16
Later European Homo Fossils (600-200 kya)
- These late hominin fossils probably represent a new wave of arrivals
from Africa c. 600 kya. - They look most like Africa hominins dating to after 700 kya
e.g., the 600 kya Bodo cranium in Ethiopia and the Kabwe cranium
from Zambia (well see this below)
Most researchers put these fossils into the species designation Homo
European Homo Heidelbergensis
- type fossil of H. Heidelbergensis
- massive lower jaw with moderate-sized teeth
- approx.. 600,000 years old
Caune de lArago, France
- On Mediterranean coast near Perpignan
- Cranium; deformed post-depositionally
o Cranial capacity approx. 1100-1150 cc
o Approx. 400,000 ya
- Cranial capacity 1230 cc
- 300-200,000 ya
- Petralona and Kabwe are 6000 km and 2 continents apart
Back to Atapuerca
Sima de los Huesos Pit of the Bones
- 400,000 bp
- 10 crania and 5500 other skeletal fragments
- MNI (Minimum Number of Individuals)= 28
- At least 12 females and 8 males
- One individual <10 years old and three >35, but majority are adolescents
or young adults
- Clearly the ancestors of the later Neandertals
o Double-arched browridge
o mid-facial pragnathism
- Cranial capacities range from 1125-1390 cc
o Mean for modern humans is 1350 cc.
- SH 5
- What Can the Bones Tell Us?
o (1) How did these peoples remains get here
Living in the cave?
Poor access to cave
Almost no stone tools
Faunal remains not typical of people food
Dragged there by cave bears or cave lions?
Maybe; carnivore tooth marks on over 50% of bones
o But, age profile of the hominin remains is not
Very odd age at death profile Not representative of predators selecting prey (e.g.
bears or lions)
Were they thrown into the pit? Why?
Just disposing of corpses?
Was it funerary ritual?
o (2) What did they look?
Bone lengths suggest similar stature to modern humans:
Average 59 males 57 females
Some males weighed 200 lbs and were 511
Much more robust and muscular
Predominately Right handed like modern-humans
Regularly used their teeth as tools
Arthritis of temporomandibular joints
Careful to take care of their teeth
o (3) How healthy were they?
Teeth can tell us a lot about an individuals health
1/3 of the individuals at Sima had enamel hypoplasia (EH)
interrupted-growth lines due to nutritional stress
Among Sima fossils EH occurred at ages 3-4- normal H-G
Overall they appear quite healthy
SH 5 Miguelon
Died of septicemia (blood poisoning)
Infection in his jaw spread to his eye
SH 4 Agamenon
Ear canals were closed off from otitis- severe ear
This person would have been deaf
o (4) Any evidence of violence?
Many skulls had old (healed) impact scars
3-4 on most skulls
Miguelon had 13
Violence? Normal product of cave life
Unit 12: Homo (sapiens) neanderthalensis
1839 Engis Cave, Belgium
1848 Forbes Quarry, Gibraltar
1856 Feldhofer Cave, Neandertal, Germany
1886 Spy dOrneau, Belgium (2 Skeletons)
Finding a number of similar fossils proved they were members of an ancient
population, not diseased modern humans