According to their own statements, researchers have discovered the remains of the “face of the first European” in northern Spain.
According to the directors of the prestigious Fundación Atapuerca, the fossil unearthed in the province of Burgos represents “the face of the first European”.
The early humans of the genus Homo, which also includes modern humans, Homo sapiens, lived up to 1.4 million years ago at the site on the Sierra de Atapuerca mountains, it is said.
The discovery is part of the cheekbone and upper jaw of an early human.
Oldest bones from Spain
The find is of extraordinary importance for understanding the first steps in the evolution of early humans outside of Africa, the researchers said. The oldest fossils unearthed so far in Atapuerca were a mandible and other bone fragments from two individuals who had lived at this site 1.2 million years ago.
The renowned early human researcher Jean-Jacques Hublin from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology also commented on the find. “According to reports, the oldest face (1.4 million years old?) found so far in Europe was discovered in Spain” writes Hublin Twitter.
Early humans walking upright much earlier in Europe
According to the Spanish researchers, the find shows that the European continent was settled much earlier by upright early humans than previously thought. Up until the early 1990s, it was assumed that the first Europeans lived around 500,000 years ago.
The excavation site in Atapuerca caused a stir when human remains were discovered there in 1994, which are assigned to the Homo antecessor – a human species that before is said to have lived around 900,000 years. In subsequent years, even older remains were discovered in the Atapuerca Caves.