A bunch of hominin teeth discovered at the Paleolithic site of La Cotte de St Brelade in Jersey may be from a Neanderthal – Homo sapiens breed, new research led by the Natural History Museum of London says.
The thirteen permanent completely erupted teeth were dug up in 1910 and 1911.
They were all found in the same spot, on a ledge behind a hearth inside of the cave.
Olga Finch, Jersey Heritage’s Curator of Archaeology, said:
“La Cotte de St Brelade is a site of huge importance, and it continues to reveal stories about our ancient predecessors,”
Though the La Cotte teeth feature Neanderthal traits, various specimens don’t present features typically found in Neanderthals. Various aspects of their shape are specific to the anatomy of modern humans.
Late dating of adjacent sediments says that the sample has likely less than 48,000 years. That suggests that the teeth may belong to the youngest Neanderthal remains known to us.
Professor Chris Stringer, senior author and researcher in the department of Earth sciences from the Natural History Museum of London stated:
“Given that modern humans overlapped with Neanderthals in some parts of Europe after 45,000 years ago, the unusual features of these La Cotte individuals suggest that they could have had a dual Neanderthal-modern human ancestry.”
It was believed that the La Cotte teeth belonged to a single Neanderthal individual.
However, Professor Stinger and his team discovered that the teeth are from at least two adult individuals who share similar features.
Researchers are working hard to dig up more fossils and find extra information on the subject. Finding more data is crucial for understanding the transition from the Neanderthals to modern humans.