The Search for Humanity in Europe

Essay by hankdelisonCollege, UndergraduateA+, August 2014

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Hank Delison

Dr. R. Keeler

Ant. 101-01

May 24, 2013

The search for humanity in Europe

Our textbook, "Essentials of Physical Anthropology" on page 246 tells us that the distant ancestors of modern humans migrated out of Africa at least 1.8 mya in the form of Homo erectus. But that was in Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia, and while this could be termed Europe it is quite a bit to the east of what is considered Europe today. Our book goes on to describe the first true European fossil find as being a single partial jawbone with a few teeth found in one of the caves of the Atapuerca area of Spain. This jawbone was found with a few animal bones and tools. The jawbone and tools are similar to the fossils found at Dmanisi and have been dated at 1.2 mya. These were also called Homo erectus.

Our textbook goes on, on page 257 to describe fossils found at several of the Atapuerca caves that were much younger.

From perhaps 850,000 years ago to 400,000 years ago. These fossils have been named Homo hiedelbergensis. 4,000 fossil fragments from 28 individuals have been recovered from these caves in Atapuerca, comprising 80% of the Middle Pleistocene hominin remains in the entire world. The Atapuerca caves have proved to be quite a productive area.

But there is much more to the story of Atapuerca, as I found out when I turned to the marvelous computer world wide web. Starting with the .com sites such as Wikipedia I quickly Hank Delison, page 2 turned to the more detailed and informative .edu sites. (Also I might add more difficult to understand at times.)

Human ancestors (Homo erectus) are known to have migrated out of Africa around 1.7 to 1.8 mya, but most fossil...