400,000 Year Old Fossil Helps Shed New Light on Human Evolution


The human lower jaw found in a cave near Balanica, Serbia. Credit: Mirjana Roksandic

A nearly 400,000 year old human fossil discovered in a Serbian cave is helping scientists shed new light on human evolution.

A fossil fragment of a human lower jaw recovered from a Serbian cave is the oldest human ancestor found in this part of Europe. The newly obtained radiometric date of the fossil was published today in PLOS ONE by William Jack Rink, 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,” explained Rink. “We used three independent techniques (electron spin resonance, uranium series isotopic analysis, and infrared luminescence dating) which had remarkably consistent results reinforcing our conclusion. This established the mandible as the oldest easternmost European fossil of its kind.”

“During this time, humans in Western Europe started to develop Neanderthal traits, which is lacking in this specimen,” explained Roksandic. ”Scientists now think the evolution of Neanderthal traits was strongly influenced by periodic isolation caused by episodic formation of glaciers. On the other hand, humans in southeastern Europe were never geographically isolated from Asia and Africa by glaciers and accordingly, this resulted in different evolutionary forces acting on early human populations in this region. The Balkan Peninsula could have belonged to the postulated core area from which human populations repopulated Europe after the glaciers receded. The status of this specimen as Homo erectus s.l. fits well with this explanation.”

“Southeastern Europe is very important in understanding human evolution,” expressed Mihailović. “Well dated human fossils from this time period are rare, and one from this part of the world is exceptional. The date opens a new and exciting frontier in research. This 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. This inspires us to continue to dig.”

This find is a result of an international – interdisciplinary collaboration of anthropologists, archeologists, physicists and earth scientists – from Serbia, Canada, England, and France. The site has been excavated by the University of Belgrade since 2004 funded by the Serbian Ministry of Culture, and since 2010 hosts an International field-school in Paleoanthropology and Paleolithic Archaeology jointly with The University of Winnipeg. The mandible was found in 2006 and dated initially at the University of Bordeaux. Electron spin resonance (ESR) work was carried out in Dr. Rink’s laboratory at McMaster University’s School of Geography and Earth Sciences and at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor. The uranium series isotopic analysis was carried out at the Center de Recherche GEOTOP, Université du Québec à Montréal. Infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) dating was performed at the Center de Recherche en Physique Appliquée à l’Archéologie at the University of Bordeaux (France).

Publication: “New Radiometric Ages for the BH-1 Hominin from Balanica (Serbia): Implications for Understanding the Role of the Balkans in Middle Pleistocene Human Evolution” by William J. Rink, Norbert Mercier, Dušan Mihailović, Mike W. Morley, Jeroen W. Thompson and Mirjana Roksandic, 6 February 2013, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054608

16 Comments on "400,000 Year Old Fossil Helps Shed New Light on Human Evolution"

  1. Not “mans evolution” but darwidiots “claim” to evolution.. “nothing” but a theory..

    • It’s very discouraging that there are people as stupid as you, that are allowed to vote and have offspring.

    • what do you think religion is? a bunch of child molesters got together and wrote a book to control the population. you have evidence right in front of your face and you deny it. i pity you and your closed mined likenesses.

    • haa agan the “Evolutionnist Theary” fools have foud yet anuther one of GOD’s tests of faith and hav faild.
      evolution is just a thery and so is the BIBLE but you still dont have evidance of your “THEARY”, we have evidence of GOD just luk at the wrld our very exstance is proof of his existans and glore and power.
      the day of jugdmant is soon and yuo all will perish.

      i pray yuo all finnd GOD befor he finnds you!

  2. Very strange, sounds almost like the Neanders were fully human once and due to cosmic ray exposure? transmutation similar to accelerated deutereium? energetic emission quasar-like from the sun? they degraded via epigenetic methylation or histones.
    Is that what this article is saying?

    It is hard to comprehend probably same for researchers as jaw bone found in 2006.

  3. What? Should I even bther to answer these two? Ok here goes, not that I think it will do much good.

    @Kenny; Yes the theory of evolution is a theory, it explains tha FACT that creatures change over time. That change over time, from primitive life forms to complicated, is not in question, the method and process for that change is explained in the theory of evolution, no other theory for this change has ever been put forward and survived examination and/or falsification, the theory of evolution remains unchallenged. Suggest you put forward your pet theory to explain these changes over time and win the Nobel Prize.

    @ketesisco; from a quick read it is clear that Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens once sprung from a common ancestor, and being isolated from the strain we regard as the ancestor of modern humans began to develop unique features, as explained by the theory of evolution. Environmental pressure is enough to cause change, we don’t need to invoke some cosmic ray induced mutation to explain it. Accelerated duterium? Once you have explained what that is we can discuss it. Quasar like? You mean the radiation level of several millions suns? forgive me if I don’t believe life would even survive that level of radiation, let alone mysteriously convert to neanderthal form.

    I suggest you both do yourselves a favour and study evolutionary theory and basic cosmology, it will avoid such elemntary mistakes in the future.

  4. The proof of Darwin’s theory evolution lies on the following facts. A child in the embryo grows tail initially and it disappears due to apoptosis in the embryo itself. We still have tail bone in the appendix of our spinal column. If you look at the zebra having stripes on its fur or any tiger with stripes for that matter, it should have come from tanning of the skin in the shades of trees for both predators and the victims to hide or escape. The same is the case of a leopard also for having spotted fur. The adaptation due to environment does not call for cosmic radiations or lethal rays to initiate.The small horse growing into a big one or the big tiger diminishing in size to a small cat is all because of fight for survival or fight for food. The big animals like pachyderms, hippos or rhinos which are purely vegetarians survived long ago because of plenty of forest plants available for their feed.The big dinosaurs once survived because of plenty of food and having vanished completely by some cometary collision, became only small reptiles nowadays because of paucity of food. Thus Darwin’s theory can never be replaced by any other reasonable scientific theories. Again, the extermination of Neanderthals by modern man is a characteristics of animals called “territorial behavior”. Why? Even in England the original aborigens were hunted and killed by invading settlers with poisonous arrows to occupy space. The remnants of this animal behavior still persists in mankind though in different form. As the article suggests there were isolations because of ice ages and the independent living Neanderthals were invaded by modern humans who migrated from Africa to settle in Central Asia and Europe later on.Thank YOu.

  5. People need to learn that scientific theory is fact until proven otherwise.

  6. pooritysatyanarayana | May 19, 2013 at 3:14 am | Reply

    yes until further investigation we have to accept it,

  7. Interesting read adn even more interesting comments

  8. just an observation here. on one hand there’s people saying God made it all, and on the other hand there’s those that say everything just exploded out of nowhere one day

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