Finding of one fragment of a human mandible (lower jawbone), archaeolog. code BH -1 which was recovered in Serbia suggests Early Humans in Southeast Europe Were Different than the Western European Homo heidelbergensis

 BH-1 is a left fragment of a human mandible (lower jawbone), complete with all three molar teeth. It was recovered in 2005 at Mala Balanica cave, Serbia, along with a number of quartz artefacts. Originally estimated to be around 115,000 years old (Roksandic, et al., 2011), it is now believed to be at least 400,000 years old. Newly obtained ages, based on electron spin resonance combined with uranium series isotopic analysis, and infrared/post-infrared luminescence dating, yielded a minimum age of between 397,000 to 525,000 years old. This date makes BH-1 one of the oldest hominins in Europe, and the most easterly European hominin of the Middle Pleistocene (Rink, Mercier, Mihailovic, Morley, Thompson, & Roksandic, 2013).

This date makes BH-1 one of the oldest hominins in Europe, and the most easterly European hominin of the Middle Pleistocene (Rink, Mercier, Mihailovic, Morley, Thompson, & Roksandic, 2013).

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Photo: Partiable mandible BH-1, discovered in the Mala Balanica Cave in 2008.  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) 

Middle Pleistocene hominins from the period 600,000 to around 200,000 years ago are conventionally lumped together as Homo heidelbergensis (or Archaic Homo sapiens). By the end of this period, the Neanderthals had emerged from the European populations and modern Homo sapiens from the African populations. In fact, the reality of the situation is far from understood and was almost certainly far more complicated.
BH-1 is an important piece in the jigsaw. It differs significantly from European hominins generally classified as Homo heidelbergensis. It shows a complete lack of the incipient Neanderthal traits that are present for most Western European hominins of the Middle Pleistocene. Instead, it shows primitive Homo erectus-like traits (Roksandic, et al., 2011).

This data suggests that the Neanderthals may have arisen solely in Western Europe, only later spreading to Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia. During glacial periods, Western Europe was cut off from the rest of Eurasia, and the distinctive morphology of the Neanderthals may have evolved in isolation. The process may have been driven by genetic drift impacting on small isolated proto-Neanderthal populations, rather than the effects of Darwinian natural selection (Weaver, 2009). Genetic drift refers to random changes in the relative frequency in which an allele occurs in a population. In small populations, over a number of generations, the effect can result in some alleles becoming fixed and others disappearing altogether, even if the prevailing alleles confer no particular selective advantage on their possessors.

In contrast to Western Europe, the Balkan Peninsula was never isolated, and early humans there remained biologically similar to those from Southwest Asia. Accordingly, the population inhabiting the Balkan Peninsula could have retained a number of primitive non-Neanderthal traits, without precluding morphological changes associated with increased brain size and tooth reduction observed in Middle Pleistocene populations throughout Eurasia and Africa (Rink, Mercier, Mihailovic, Morley, Thompson, & Roksandic, 2013).

source:
The research is published in the February 6 issue of the open access journal PLOS ONE  as New Radiometric Ages for the BH-1 Hominin from Balanica (Serbia): Implications for Understanding the Role of the Balkans in Middle Pleistocene Human Evolution.

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

The Road Through Sicevo, Popular Archaeology Discovery Edition, April 16, 2012.

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2 thoughts on “Finding of one fragment of a human mandible (lower jawbone), archaeolog. code BH -1 which was recovered in Serbia suggests Early Humans in Southeast Europe Were Different than the Western European Homo heidelbergensis

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