Oldest European human fossil found

Sept. 24, 2003 at 1:48 PM

BUCHAREST, Romania, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- The oldest modern human fossil ever found in Europe has been discovered in a cave in Romania, the Times of London reported Wednesday.

The find suggests Homo sapiens reached the continent several thousand years earlier than generally thought, researchers said.

The jawbone of the first known European was found in a bear hibernation cave in the Carpathian mountains and has been dated to between 32,000 and 34,000 BC.

The discovery, by a team led by Erik Trinkaus, professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St Louis, pushes back by at least 6,000 years the date at which anatomically modern Homo sapiens are known to have been present in Europe.

Researchers said the find will cast important new light on the movement of Homo sapiens from Africa and into Europe, as well as on the biology of the first human beings.

The age of the fossils has been determined using radiocarbon dating, together with a comparative anatomical analysis of the remains with other human bones of different dates.

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