Re-Dating Confirms Southeastern Europe’s Oldest Human Ancestor

February 15, 2013 / Serbia, Europe
Caves in the Sićevo Gorge.

Caves in the Sićevo Gorge. Photo by Intermedichbo/Wikipedia

Newly obtained ages from a fragment of human lower jaw found in a Serbian cave have dated it as the oldest human ancestor ever discovered in that part of Europe.

Using electron spin resonance combined with uranium series isotopic analysis, and infrared/post-infrared luminescence dating researchers have been able to determine that the minimum age of the hominin mandible, dubbed BH-1, is 397,000 years old.

Even excluding a possibility that it is in excess of than 525,000 years old, its re-dated age is more than 280,000 years older than a previously published study found.

Discovered in June 2008 in Mala Balanica cave, one of many caves in Serbia’s Sićevo Gorge, the fossil was found to lack Neandertal traits in the same way that other similarly dated specimens in Southeast Europe do.

This has led scientists to believe that the early human populations in the region, not isolated by glaciers like the rest of Europe, were influenced by evolutionary forces from Asia and Africa.

The study confirms the importance of southeast Europe as a ‘gate to the continent’ and one of the three main areas where humans, plants and animals sought refuge during glaciations in prehistoric times,Dr Mirjana Roksandic, University of Winnipeg

The research is published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Southeastern Europe’s Oldest-Known Human Ancestor Fossil Found in Serbia [sci-news.com]

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