LEIDEN, Netherlands, June 15 (UPI) -- Researchers in the Netherlands say they have confirmed a skull fragment dredged from the North Sea was that of a young adult male Neanderthal.
The 60,000-year-old Neanderthal is the first confirmed specimen to be found undersea anywhere in the world, the BBC reported Monday. The fossil was found by Luc Anthonis, a private collector from Belgium, among animal remains and stone artifacts recovered several miles off the coast of the Netherlands in 2001.
A chemical analysis revealed the humanoid probably was carnivorous, linking it to other Neanderthal specimens found, the British network said.
"Even with this rather limited fragment of skull, it is possible to securely identify this as Neanderthal," said Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
Researchers note that sea levels are much higher now than they were during much of the past 500,000 years, meaning large swathes of the North Sea seabed were once dry land inhabited by many species of mammals.