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Features of southeast European human ancestors influenced by lack of episodic glaciations

Date:
February 6, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A fragment of human lower jaw recovered from a Serbian cave is the oldest human ancestor found in this part of Europe, who probably evolved under different conditions than populations that inhabited more western parts of the continent at the same time, according to new research.
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Rink WJ, Mercier N, Mihailovic´ D, Morley MW, Thompson JW, et al. (2013) New Radiometric Ages for the BH-1 Hominin from Balanica (Serbia): Implications for Understanding the Role of the Balkans in Middle Pleistocene Human Evolution. PLoS ONE 8(2): e54608. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054608
Credit: Mirjana Roksandic

A fragment of human lower jaw recovered from a Serbian cave is the oldest human ancestor found in this part of Europe, who probably evolved under different conditions than populations that inhabited more western parts of the continent at the same time, according to research published Feb. 6 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

The research was carried out by William Jack Rink of McMaster University, Canada, and the international team under the direction of Dušan Mihailović, University of Belgrade, Serbia, and Mirjana Roksandic, University of Winnipeg, Canada.

The fossil was found to be at least 397,000 years old and possibly older than 525,000 years old, a time when distinctly Neandertal traits began to appear in Europe. The evolution of these traits was strongly influenced by periodic isolation of groups of individuals, caused by episodic formation of glaciers. Humans in southeastern Europe were never geographically isolated from Asia and Africa by glaciers, and according to the authors, this resulted in different evolutionary forces acting on early human populations in this region.

Roksandic explains that their study confirms the importance of southeast Europe as a 'gate to the continent' and one of the three main areas where humans, plants and animals sought refuge during glaciations in prehistoric times. She adds, "We have very few fossils of hominins in general from this time, a period that was critical for shaping the appearance and evolution of uniquely human morphology and behaviors."


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Journal Reference:

  1. William J. Rink, Norbert Mercier, Dušan Mihailović, Mike W. Morley, Jeroen W. Thompson, Mirjana Roksandic. New Radiometric Ages for the BH-1 Hominin from Balanica (Serbia): Implications for Understanding the Role of the Balkans in Middle Pleistocene Human Evolution. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (2): e54608 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054608

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Public Library of Science. "Features of southeast European human ancestors influenced by lack of episodic glaciations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206185841.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, February 6). Features of southeast European human ancestors influenced by lack of episodic glaciations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206185841.htm
Public Library of Science. "Features of southeast European human ancestors influenced by lack of episodic glaciations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206185841.htm (accessed July 1, 2015).

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