The oldest modern European. Human fossils found in Romania

jawfossil_goto1A jaw of a man was found in Romania, dating back 35,000 years ago and U.S. researchers believe it is the oldest fossil of a modern European.
The fossils were found in February 2002 in a cave where bears hibernated in the Carpathian Mountains in southwest Romania. The jaw was found by three Romanian cave explorers who contacted the Institutul de Speologie, a cave research institute in Cluj, Romania.
The jaw was radiocarbon dated by a team led by Erik Trinkaus, an anthropology professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, Mo.
“The jawbone is the oldest directly dated modern (European) human fossil. Taken together, the material is the first that securely documents what modern humans looked like when they spread into Europe,” Trinkaus said in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. “Although we call them ‘modern humans,’ they were not fully modern in the sense that we think of living people,” he wrote.
The jaw is generally similar to “modern” specimens found Africa, the Middle East and later on in Europe. But differences, such as the bigger teeth, indicate a possible link to Neanderthal man.
Trinkaus said that at this time, the first modern humans were sharing the planet with the last of the Neanderthals.
“The specimens suggest that there have been clear changes in human anatomy since then. The bones are also fully compatible with the blending of modern human and Neanderthal populations. Not only is the face very large, but so are the jaws and the teeth, particularly the wisdom teeth. In the human fossil record, you have to go back a half-million years to find a specimen that has bigger wisdom teeth.”
Other fossils were found in the same cave in June 2003.
The specimen was analyzed in the United States and then sent back to Romania. In June 2003, Trinkaus headed to the cave with Portuguese archaeologist Ricardo Rodrigo. Other fossils were found including a cranium and other bones have been studied.


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