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Human ancestor fossil found in Europe

(63:5.1) The early Andon races did not penetrate very far into Asia, and they did not at first enter Africa. The geography of those times pointed them north, and farther and farther north these people journeyed until they were hindered by the slowly advancing ice of the third glacier.

(63:5.2) Before this extensive ice sheet reached France and the British Isles, the descendants of Andon and Fonta had pushed on westward over Europe and had established more than one thousand separate settlements along the great rivers leading to the then warm waters of the North Sea.

This article reflects recent scientific discovery that corroborates Urantia Book revelation. It should give us all hope that the world is catching up, ever so slowly...

Human ancestor fossil found in Europe

By DANIEL WOOLLS, Associated Press Writer

Wed Mar 26

MADRID, Spain - A small piece of jawbone unearthed in a cave in Spain is the oldest known fossil of a human ancestor in Europe and suggests that people lived on the continent much earlier than previously believed, scientists say.

A team co-led by Eudald Carbonell, director of the Catalan Institute of Human Paleo-Ecology and Social Evolution, reported their find in Thursday's issue of the scientific journal Nature.

The timing of the earliest occupation of Europe by humans that emerged from Africa has been controversial for many years.

Until now the oldest hominin fossils found in Europe were the Homo antecessor ones, also found at Atapuerca, but at a separate digging site, and a skull from Ceprano in Italy.

Carbonell's team has tentatively classified the new fossil as representing an earlier example of Homo antecessor. And, critically, the team says the new one also bears similarities to much-older fossils dug up since 1983 in the Caucasus at a place called Dmanisi, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. These were dated as being up to 1.8 million years old.

"This leads us to a very important, very interesting conclusion," Carbonell said. It is this: that hominins which emerged from Africa and settled in the Caucasus eventually evolved into Homo antecessor, and that the latter populated Europe not 800,000 years ago, but at least 1.3 million years ago.

Chris Stringer, a leading researcher in human origins at the Natural History Museum in London and not involved in the project, said Carbonell's team had done solid dating work to estimate the antiquity of the new Atapuerca fossil by employing three separate techniques — some researchers only use one or two — including a relatively new one that measures radioactive decay of sediments.

"This is a well-dated site, as much as any site that age can be," Stringer said.

But he also expressed some caution about Carbonell's conclusions.

First of all, the newly found jawbone fragment, which measures about two inches long and has teeth attached to it, preserves a section not seen in the equivalent pieces found at Atapuerca in 1997. So assigning both to the same species must be provisional, Stringer said.

And on the broader issue of tracing the new fossil back to the species unearthed at Dmanisi — Carbonell's big leap arguing continuity — Stringer said this too must be tentative because it is based on just a piece of a front of a jawbone and the time lapse is half a million years.

"That is a long period of time to talk about continuity," Stringer said.

Still, there are similarities between the two and this along with other archaeological evidence, suggests southern Europe did in fact begin to be colonized from western Asia not long after humans emerged from Africa — "something which many of us would have doubted even five years ago," Stringer said.

Carbonell says that with the finding of human fossils 1.3 million years old in Europe, researchers can now expect to find older ones, even up to 1.8 million years old, in other parts of the continent.

"This has to be the next discovery," he said. "This is the scientific hypothesis."

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