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Jawbone May Link Early Humans, Neanderthals

September 27, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A jawbone found in a cave in Romania may be evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe, who lived at the same time as the last of the Neanderthals.

Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, has dated the bone at 34,000 to 36,000 years old. His findings were reported in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The date places it in the period during which early modern humans overlapped with late surviving Neanderthals in Europe, Trinkaus said.

The bone has characteristics similar to other early modern humans, but certain features, such as the unusual molar size and proportions, indicate its archaic human origins and a possible Neanderthal connection, the researchers said.

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