The discovery was made on June 30 at the Sima del Elefante excavation site in northeastern Spain.
Spanish paleontologists have announced that they have discovered a fossil of x27;a hominid whose age is estimated at this stage at 1.4 million years, which would make it, if the dating is confirmed, the oldest human being identified in Europe.
The discovery was made on June 30 at the Sima del Elefante excavation site, in the Sierra de Atapuerca (northeastern Spain), where paleontologists have been working since 1978, according to the foundation that manages the site.
This fossil, about ten centimeters long, corresponds to a fragment of the face of a human being whose age is estimated at around 1 .4 million years old, the foundation said in a statement.
It was on this site of Atapuerca that a jawbone dating back to about 1.2 million years was discovered in 2007, considered until now to be the oldest fossil in the world. #x27;hominid in Europe.
Of course, we will have to make dates to complete this first estimate, underlined during a press conference José Maria Bermudez de Castro, co-director of the Atapuerca project.
But since this piece of the face was discovered in a layer of earth located two meters below the layer where the 2007 mandible appeared, it is logical and reasonable to think he's older, insisted the researcher.
The dating, which will be done at the Spanish Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH) in Burgos, 10 kilometers from Atapuerca, should take between 6 and 8 months, according to Mr. Bermudez de Castro.
The CENIEH analysis, according to the foundation, could also make it possible to identify the human species to which this hominid belonged, and to better understand the way whose human being evolved and developed on the European continent.
So far, paleontologists have not been able to determine with certainty what species the jawbone discovered in 2007 belonged to. The fossil could correspond to the species named < em>Homo antecessor, discovered in the 1990s.
It is very likely that the new Sima del Elefante fossil is related to this jaw and that he belongs to one of the first populations to colonize Europe, underlines the Atapuerca Foundation in a press release.
If this is the case, we will finally be able to determine the #x27;identity of the human species of Sima del Elefante, she adds.
Of exceptional richness, the deposits of the Sierra d' x27;Atapuerca have been classified since 2000 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of human fossils and tools have been unearthed there, including a 1.4 million year old chipped flint found in 2013.