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Oldest hominid species in Europe gets 120,000 years older

The oldest known hominid species ever discovered in Europe, Homo antecessor, has been determined to be 900,000 years old by Josep M. Parés from the Spanish National Research Centre for Human Evolution and colleagues according to a report in the Feb. 7, 2014, edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Homo antecessor, incomplete skull from Gran Dolina, in Atapuerca, Spain.
José-Manuel Benito This work has been released into the public domain by its author.

The oldest human ancestor ever found in Europe was originally thought to be 780,000 years old when the remains of the specimen dubbed TD6 were originally discovered at the Lower Paleolithic cave site of Gran Dolina, in the Sierra de Atapuerca Mountains of Spain in 1994. The new determination of the age of Homo antecessor is 120,000 older than previously thought.

There has been a continuing argument about the age of Homo antecessor since the initial discovery. The researchers used new techniques including paleomagnetism and optically stimulated luminescence that are capable of providing absolute ages for fossil remains. The new age of Homo antecessor should settle the accusation of "distorting our picture of human evolution" made in 1995 concerning Homo antecessor.

The aim of the project is to access the age of all the relics found at the Gran Dolina site and to address the age of all human ancestors using the same techniques in the hopes of absolutely defining the age of all human ancestors.

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