CAIRO – 18 July 2022: An ancient maxillary bone unearthed in Spain reveals unique facial features of homo sapiens that may be Europe's oldest known ancient human ancestor.
A team of paleoanthropologists discovered this ancient upper jawbone in Spain, specifically at an archaeological site in the Atapuerca Mountains near the city of Burgos in northern Spain. These mountains are known for their rich fossil record.
Researchers believe that the segmented skull is the oldest of its kind in Europe and includes part of the maxillary bone (maxilla) and a tooth from humans who lived about 1.4 million years ago, according to a statement made by the researchers who completed the study.
The ancestral group includes all living and extinct members of the human family tree and great apes, including humans and our early hominin relatives, as well as chimpanzees and gorillas, according to the Australian Museum.
The oldest hominid fossil previously discovered in Europe was the fossil found in Sima del Elefante in 2008, which spans 1.2 million years back. The discovery included part of the mandible, or lower jawbone, and several bone fragments, according to a 2012 study published in the British Journal of Dentistry.
According to Live Science, the latest discovery came as a surprise to researchers, who did not expect to find fossils older than those already discovered at the site.