Prehistoric skull offers hints about possible ancestor of the Neanderthals

An analysis of a newly unearthed 400,000-year-old half skull has offered exciting hints about a possible ancestor of the Neanderthals, according to a just published study.

The fossil was discovered at the Aroeira cave site in Portugal. Researchers called it the oldest human cranium fossil ever found in the region.

However, study co-author Rolf Quam, an anthropologist from Binghamton University, admitted that there several mysteries remain revolving around the skull.

Speaking about the ancient skull, “There is a lot of question about which species these fossils represent. I tend to think of them as ancestors of the Neanderthals. It is not a Neanderthal itself. It has some features that might be related to the later Neanderthals.”

However, researchers managed to determine that the skull belonged to an adult. Their conclusion is based on the formation of the bones. They also found two teeth with the skull. Analysis of the teeth suggested that they belonged to an adult rather than an ancient kid.

The tantalizing findings were detailed in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed U.S. journal.