New Fossil Rocks Human History

Indicates man settled in Europe far earlier than thought
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2008 8:05 AM CDT
In this undated image released by the Atapuerca Research Team (EIA) Wednesday, March 26, 2008, a small piece of jawbone unearthed in a cave in Spain is seen.    (AP Photo/Jordi Mestre, EIA via EFE)
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(Newser) – An incredibly old jawbone discovered in a Spanish cave could rewrite human history, scientists say. The bone with teeth is 1.2 million years old and belongs to a long-extinct human ancestor called Homo antecessor. It's at least 300,000 years older than any other human fossil found in Europe. The discovery, along with stone tools and animal bones at the site, suggests that early humans colonized Europe much earlier than thought, Bloomberg reports.

"This find is incredible,'' said an anthropologist. "It's forceful evidence for a continual occupation in Europe after 1.5 million years ago." The archaeological site in northern Spain has yielded "the oldest, most accurately dated record of human occupation in Europe," and sheds new light on humanity's early migration out of Africa, wrote the authors in the journal Nature.