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Human cranium from 400 thousand years ago found in Portugal: Tool user

Aroeira 3 cranium/Javier Trueba

Oldest so far. From ScienceDaily:

The cranium represents the westernmost human fossil ever found in Europe during the middle Pleistocene epoch and one of the earliest on this continent to be associated with the Acheulean stone tool industry. In contrast to other fossils from this same time period, many of which are poorly dated or lack a clear archaeological context, the cranium discovered in the cave of Aroeira in Portugal is well-dated to 400,000 years ago and appeared in association with abundant faunal remains and stone tools, including numerous bifaces (handaxes). Paper. (public access) – Joan Daura, Montserrat Sanz, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Dirk L. Hoffmann, Rolf M. Quam, María Cruz Ortega, Elena Santos, Sandra Gómez, Angel Rubio, Lucía Villaescusa, Pedro Souto, João Mauricio, Filipa Rodrigues, Artur Ferreira, Paulo Godinho, Erik Trinkaus, João Zilhão. New Middle Pleistocene hominin cranium from Gruta da Aroeira (Portugal). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201619040 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1619040114 More.

The find bears, the authors say, on “the origin of the Neanderthals and the pattern of human evolution in the Middle Pleistocene of Europe”:

We describe a recently discovered cranium from the Aroeira cave in Portugal dated to around 400 ka. This specimen is the westernmost Middle Pleistocene cranium of Europe and is one of the earliest fossils from this region associated with Acheulean tools. Unlike most other Middle Pleistocene finds, which are of uncertain chronology, the Aroeira 3 cranium is firmly dated to around 400 ka and was in direct association with abundant faunal remains and stone tools. In addition, the presence of burnt bones suggests a controlled use of fire. The Aroeira cranium represents a substantial contribution to the debate on

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips: Human evolution

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