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_HOMO ANTECESSOR_ is an extinct human species (or subspecies) dating from 1.2 million to 800,000 years ago, that was discovered by Eudald Carbonell , Juan Luis Arsuaga
Juan Luis Arsuaga
and J. M. Bermúdez de Castro. "The unique mix of modern and primitive traits led the researchers to deem the fossils a new species, _H. antecessor_, in 1997". Regarding its great age the species must be related to Out of Africa I, the first series of hominin expansions into Eurasia
Eurasia
, making it one of the earliest known human species in Europe
Europe
.

The genus name _Homo_ is the Latin word for "human" whereas the species name _antecessor_ is a Latin word meaning "explorer", "pioneer" or "early settler", assigned to emphasize the belief that these people belonged to the earliest migratory waves as yet known from the European continent.

Various archaeologists and anthropologists have debated how _H. antecessor_ relates to other _Homo_ species in Europe, with suggestions that it was an evolutionary link between _H. ergaster _ and _H. heidelbergensis _. Some anthropologists suggest _H. antecessor_ may be the last common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals (via _ Homo
Homo
heidelbergensis_) because _H. antecessor_ has a combination of primitive traits typical of earlier _Homo_ and unique features seen in neither Neanderthals or _ Homo
Homo
sapiens_. Author Richard Klein argues that it was a separate species that evolved from _H. ergaster_.

Some scientists consider _H. antecessor_ to be the same species as _H. heidelbergensis_, who inhabited Europe
Europe
from 600,000 to 250,000 years ago in the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
. As a complete skull has yet to be unearthed, only fourteen fragments and lower jaw bones exist, these scholars point to the fact, that "most of the known _H. antecessor_ specimens represent children" as "most of the features tying _H. antecessor_ to modern people were found in juveniles, whose bodies and physical features change as they grow up and go through puberty. It’s possible that _H. antecessor_ adults didn’t really look much like _H. sapiens_ at all".

The best-preserved fossil is a maxilla that belonged to a ten-year-old individual found in Spain
Spain
. Based on palaeomagnetic measurements, it is thought to be older than 857–780 ka . In 1994 and 1995, 80 fossils of six individuals who may have belonged to the species were found in Atapuerca , Spain. At the site were numerous examples of cuts where the flesh had been flensed from the bones, which indicates that _H. antecessor_ may have practiced cannibalism .

Footprints presumed to be from _H. antecessor_ dating to more than 800,000 years ago have been found at Happisburgh on the coast of Norfolk, England.

CONTENTS

* 1 Interpretation and phylogeny * 2 Physiology

* 3 Fossil sites

* 3.1 Gran Dolina * 3.2 Sima del Elefante * 3.3 Suffolk, England * 3.4 Norfolk, England * 3.5 Lézignan-la-Cèbe, France
France

* 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Notes * 7 External links

INTERPRETATION AND PHYLOGENY

Human
Human
timeline view • discuss • edit -10 — – -9 — – -8 — – -7 — – -6 — – -5 — – -4 — – -3 — – -2 — – -1 — – 0 — Human-like apes _ Nakalipithecus_ _ Ouranopithecus
Ouranopithecus
_ _ Sahelanthropus
Sahelanthropus
_ _ Orrorin
Orrorin
_ _ Ardipithecus
Ardipithecus
_ _ Australopithecus
Australopithecus
_ _HOMO HABILIS _ _HOMO ERECTUS _ _NEANDERTHAL _ _HOMO SAPIENS _ ← Earlier apes ← Possibly bipedal ← Earliest bipedal ← Earliest stone tools ← Earliest exit from Africa ← Earliest fire use ← Earliest cooking ← Earliest clothes ← Modern humans P l e i s t o c e n e P l i o c e n e M i o c e n e H

o

m

i

n

i

d

s Axis scale : millions of years . Also see: _Life timeline _ and _Nature timeline _

_H. antecessor's_ discoverers—including José Bermúdez de Castro of Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences , Juan Luis Arsuaga of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid
Madrid
and Eudald Carbonellof the University of Tarragona
Tarragona
—suggest _H. antecessor_ may have evolved from a population of _H. erectus_ living in Africa more than 1.5 million years ago and then migrated to Europe, further arguing that _H. antecessor_ gave rise to _H. heidelbergensis_, which then gave rise to Neanderthals, without contradicting the previous phylogenetic analysis.

A 2013 DNA analysis from a 400,000-year-old femur from Spain's Sima de los Huesos in the Atapuerca Mountains– the oldest hominin sequence yet published – did not help to overcome contradictions. Results "left researchers baffled" as the sequence "suggests link to mystery population" of the Denisovans instead of the Neanderthals as was anticipated.

According to the _Science X Network_ the excavation team at the cave site of Gran Dolina has succeeded to provide conclusive dating of the strata where the _ Homo
Homo
antecessor_ fossils were found. A 2014 publication in the _ Journal of Archaeological Science_ states that the sediment of Gran Dolina is 900,000 years old.

A review of the _Spanish National Research Centre for Human Evolution_ (CENIEH) in 2015, titled "_ Homo
Homo
antecessor_: The state of the art eighteen years later" only yields vague statements on the species' phylogenetic position: "... a speciation event could have occurred in Africa/Western Eurasia, originating a new _Homo_ clade ", and further: "_ Homo
Homo
antecessor_ ... could be a side branch of this clade placed at the westernmost region of the Eurasian continent".

PHYSIOLOGY

_H. antecessor_ was about 1.6–1.8 m (5½–6 feet) tall, and males weighed roughly 90 kg (200 pounds). Their brain sizes were roughly 1,000–1,150 cm³, smaller than the 1,350 cm³ average of modern humans. Due to fossil scarcity, very little more is known about the physiology of _H. antecessor_, yet it was likely to have been more robust than _H. heidelbergensis_.

According to Juan Luis Arsuaga, one of the co-directors of the excavation in Burgos, _H. antecessor_ might have been right-handed, a trait that makes the species different from the other apes. This hypothesis is based on tomography techniques. Arsuaga also claims that the frequency range of audition is similar to _H. sapiens _, which makes him suspect that _H. antecessor_ used a symbolic language and was able to reason. Arsuaga's team is currently pursuing a DNA map of _H. antecessor._

Based on teeth eruption pattern, the researchers think that _H. antecessor_ had the same development stages as _H. sapiens_, though probably at a faster pace. Other significant features demonstrated by the species are a protruding occipital bun , a low forehead, and a lack of a strong chin. Some of the remains are almost indistinguishable from the fossil attributable to the 1.5 million year old Turkana Boy
Turkana Boy
, belonging to _H. ergaster_.

FOSSIL SITES

_ Model of a female Homo
Homo
antecessor_ of Atapuerca practicing cannibalism (Ibeas Museum, Burgos, Spain)

The only known fossils of _H. antecessor_ were found at two sites in the Sierra de Atapuerca region of northern Spain
Spain
(Gran Dolina and Sima del Elefante). The type specimen for H. antecessor is ATD 6-5, dating to approximately 780,000 years ago. Other sites yielding fossil evidence of this hominid have been discovered in the United Kingdom and France
France
.

GRAN DOLINA

Archaeologist Eudald Carbonelli Roura of the Universidad Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona
Tarragona
, Spain
Spain
and palaeoanthropologist Juan Luis Arsuaga Ferreras of the Complutense University of Madrid
Complutense University of Madrid
discovered _ Homo
Homo
antecessor_ remains at the Gran Dolina (literally “Big Sinkhole”) site in the Sierra de Atapuerca , east of Burgos
Burgos
in what now is Spain. The _H. antecessor_ remains have been found in level 6 (TD6) of the Gran Dolina site.

More than 80 bone fragments from six individuals were uncovered in 1994 and 1995. The site also had included approximately 200 stone tools and 300 animal bones. Stone tools including a stone carved knife were found along with the ancient hominin remains. All these remains were dated at least 900,000 years old. The best-preserved remains are a maxilla (upper jawbone) and a frontal bone of an individual who died at the age of 10–11.

SIMA DEL ELEFANTE

On June 29, 2007, Spanish researchers working at the Sima del Elefante (“Pit of the Elephant”) site in the Atapuerca Mountains of Spain
Spain
announced that they had recovered a molar dated to 1.2–1.1 million years ago. The molar was described as "well worn" and from an individual between 20 and 25 years of age. Additional findings announced on 27 March 2008 included a mandible fragment, stone flakes, and evidence of animal bone processing.

SUFFOLK, ENGLAND

_ Model of a male Homo
Homo
antecessor_ of Atapuerca mountains (Ibeas Museum, Burgos, Spain)

In 2005, flint tools and teeth from the same strata as fossils of the water vole _Mimomys savini_, a key dating species, were found in the cliffs at Pakefieldnear Lowestoft in Suffolk. This suggests that hominins existed in England 700,000 years ago, potentially a cross between _ Homo
Homo
antecessor_ and _ Homo
Homo
heidelbergensis _.

NORFOLK, ENGLAND

In 2010, stone tool finds were reported in Happisburgh , Norfolk, England, thought to have been used by _H. antecessor_, suggesting that the early hominin species also lived in England about 950,000 years ago – the earliest known population of the genus _Homo_ in Northern Europe.

In May 2013, sets of fossilized footprints were discovered in an estuary at Happisburgh. They are thought to date from 800,000 years ago and are theorized to have been left by a small group of people, including several children and one adult male. The tracks are considered the oldest human footprints outside Africa and the first direct evidence of humans in this time period in the UK or northern Europe, previously known only by their stone tools. Within two weeks, the tracks had been covered again by sand, but scientists made 3D photogrammetric images of the prints, and attributed them to _H. antecessor._

LéZIGNAN-LA-CèBE, FRANCE

Twenty tools dating back to the Paleolithic (pebble culture, 1.6 million years ago) were found in 2008.

SEE ALSO

* Atapuerca Mountains * Dawn of Humanity * Denisovan * Happisburgh footprints * _ Homo
Homo
rhodesiensis _ * Out of Africa I

REFERENCES

* BBC
BBC
– _Dawn of Man_ (2000) by Robin McKie ISBN 0-7894-6262-1

NOTES

* ^ Bermudez de Castro; Arsuaga; Carbonell; Rosas; Martinez; Mosquera (1997). "A hominid from the Lower Pleistocene
Pleistocene
of Atapuerca, Spain: possible ancestor to neandertals and modern humans". _Science_. 276: 1392–1395. PMID 9162001 . doi :10.1126/science.276.5317.1392 . * ^ _A_ _B_ "_ Homo
Homo
antecessor_: Common Ancestor of Humans and Neanderthals?". Smithsonian. November 26, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2015. * ^ Klein, Richard. 2009. " Hominin
Hominin
Disperals in the Old World" in _The Human
Human
Past_, ed. Chris Scarre, 2nd ed., p. 108. * ^ "_ Homo
Homo
antecessor_". Australian Museum. November 26, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2015. * ^ "The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-two Species of Extinct Humans By Esteban E. Sarmiento, Gary J. Sawyer, Richard Milner, Viktor Deak, Ian Tattersall". Google Books. Retrieved December 10, 2015. * ^ Falguères, Christophe; Bahain, J.; Yokoyama, Y.; Arsuaga, J.; Bermudez de Castro, J.; Carbonell, E.; Bischoff, J.; Dolo, J. (1999). "Earliest humans in Europe: the age of TD6 Gran Dolina, Atapuerca, Spain". _Journal of Human
Human
Evolution_. 37 (3–4): 343–352 . PMID 10496991 . doi :10.1006/jhev.1999.0326 . * ^ Fernández-Jalvo, Y.; Díez, J. C.; Cáceres, I.; Rosell, J. (September 1999). " Human
Human
cannibalism in the Early Pleistoceneof Europe
Europe
(Gran Dolina, Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain)". _Journal of Human
Human
Evolution_. Academic Press. 37 (34): 591–622. PMID 10497001 . doi :10.1006/jhev.1999.0324 . * ^ Lawless, Jill (7 February 2014). "Scientists find 800,000-year-old footprints in UK". _ AP News_. Retrieved 7 February 2014. * ^ _A_ _B_ Ghosh, Pallab (7 February 2014). "Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk". _ BBC
BBC
_. Retrieved 7 February 2014. * ^ _A_ _B_ Ashton, N; Lewis, SG; De Groote, I; Duffy, SM; Bates, M; et al. (2014). " Hominin
Hominin
Footprints from Early PleistoceneDeposits at Happisburgh, UK" . _PLoS ONE_. 9 (2): e88329. PMC 3917592  _. PMID 24516637 . doi :10.1371/journal.pone.0088329 . * ^ Ashton, Nicholas (7 February 2014). "The earliest human footprints outside Africa". British Museum
British Museum
. Retrieved 2014-02-07. * ^ " Homo
Homo
antecessor_: Common Ancestor of Humans and Neanderthals? By Erin Wayman _H. antessor_\'s discoverers—including José Bermúdez de Castro...". smithsonian.com. November 26, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2015. * ^ Carretero, JM; Lorenzo, C; Arsuaga, JL (October 1, 1999). "Axial and appendicular skeleton of _ Homo
Homo
antecessor_". _J. Hum. Evol_. 37: 459–99. PMID 10496997 . doi :10.1006/jhev.1999.0342 . * ^ " Hominin
Hominin
DNA baffles experts Analysis of oldest sequence from a human ancestor suggests link to mystery population.". Nature Publishing Group. December 4, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2015. * ^ "Dating is refined for the Atapuerca site where _Homo antecessor_ appeared". Science X Network. February 7, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2015. * ^ "_ Homo
Homo
antecessor_: The state of the art eighteen years later". _Quaternary International_. Science Direct. May 23, 2015. doi :10.1016/j.quaint.2015.03.049 . Retrieved December 10, 2015. * ^ _A_ _B_ El Mundo newspaper (in Spanish) * ^ "_ Homo
Homo
antecessor_". eFossils. Retrieved December 9, 2015. * ^ Parés, J.M. (July 24, 2013). "Reassessing the age of Atapuerca-TD6 (Spain): New paleomagnetic results by L. Arnolda, M. Duvala, M. Demuroa, A. Pérez-Gonzáleza, J.M. Bermúdez de Castro, E. Carbonell, J.L. Arsuaga". _Journal of Archaeological Science_. 40: 4586–4595. doi :10.1016/j.jas.2013.06.013 . Retrieved 3 August 2013.

* ^ Carbonell, Eudald (2008-03-27). "The first hominin of Europe". _Nature _. 452 (7186): 465–469. PMID 18368116 . doi :10.1038/nature06815 . Retrieved 2008-03-26. * ^ Parfitt.S et al (2005) 'The earliest record of human activity in northern Europe', _Nature_ 438 pp.1008-1012, 2005-12-15. Retrieved 2011-04-16. * ^ Roebroeks.W (2005) 'Archaeology: Life on the Costa del Cromer', _Nature_ 438 pp.921-922, 2005-12-15. Retrieved 2011-04-16. * ^ Parfitt.S et al (2006) \'700,000 years old: found in Pakefield\', _British Archaeology_, January/February 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-24. * ^ Good. C & Plouviez. J (2007) The Archaeology
Archaeology
of the Suffolk Coast Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service . Retrieved 2009-11-28. * ^ Tools unlock secrets of early man, BBC
BBC
news website, 2005-12-14. Retrieved 2011-04-15. * ^ Moore, Matthew (8 July 2010). "Norfolk earliest known settlement in northern Europe". _ The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
_. London. Retrieved 8 July 2010. * ^ Ghosh, Pallab (7 July 2010). "Humans\' early arrival in Britain". BBC
BBC
. Retrieved 8 July 2010. * ^ Ancient stone tools found in Norfolk to feature in exhibition, BBC
BBC
Norfolk website, 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-02-07. * ^ Jones, Tim. "Lithic Assemblage Dated to 1.57 Million Years Found at Lézignan-la-Cébe, Southern France
France
«". Anthropology.net. Retrieved 21 June 2012.

EXTERNAL LINKS

_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to HOMO ANTECESSOR _.

* Homo
Homo
antecessor * Homo
Homo
antecessor in northern Europe