`Neanderthals evolved in a piecemeal fashion`
London: In a significant discovery, a "pit of bones" found at a possible burial site in northern Spain has offered a rare glimpse into the early evolution of the Neanderthals.
The distinctive facial features of the big-bodied hunter-gatherers, who dominated Europe long before modern humans arrived there, evolved stepwise, the discovery reveals.
A team led by Juan Luis Arsuaga, a palaeoanthropologist from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, recovered the remains of around 28 individuals in the 13-metre pit.
They analysed 17 of those skulls.
"The 430,000-year-old skulls display key Neanderthal features, such as the beginning of a prominent brow ridge, a distinctive jaw shape and patterns of cusps on the teeth," said Arsuaga.
Yet, the skulls lack other traits that define the species - notably a large cranium - holding a brain bigger than that of Homo sapiens, on average.
According to Arsuaga, Neanderthals evolved in a piecemeal fashion after their common ancestor with Homo sapiens left Africa more than half a million years ago.
The emergence of Neanderthals is just as mysterious as their disappearance about 30,000 years ago.
Sima de los Huesos - Spanish for "pit of bones" - is one of the richest human-fossil sites in the world.
The study appeared in the journal Science.
Download the all new Zee News app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with latest headlines and news stories in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, Business and much more from India and around the world.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Vladimir Putin rages as Turkey shoots down Russian plane
- I was shivering while interviewing Nirbhaya's friend, says Ramnath Goenka awardee Sudhir Chaudhary
- Intolerance issue: Proud to be Indian, won't leave country, says Aamir Khan
- If India was intolerant, then Kiran Rao wouldn't have married Aamir Khan: Baba Ramdev
- Army camp attacked in J&K's Kupwara; three JeM terrorists, one civilian killed