Heidelberg man

Advanced human remains from the middle Pleistocene of Africa and Europe in rocks dated from 0.8 to 0.4 Myr ago have suggested that the species Homo heidelbergen-sis, established in 1907 for a jawbone from Germany, might be a valid species. English remains consist of a tibia and some teeth (Roberts et al., 1994), associated with Acheulean tools. These perhaps indicate a unique radiation of humans in the mid-Pleistocene of Europe that were more derived than H. erectus, but ancestral to the Neanderthals. The African specimens, skulls and postcranial remains from Ethiopia, Zambia and South Africa were often termed 'archaic Homo sapiens'. They date from 0.6 to 0.4Myr ago. These forms, showing apparently intermediate characters between H. erectus and H. sapiens,may also belong to H. heidelbergensis.

Recent finds from Spain have been interpreted in different ways. The famous Atapuerca site has yielded jaws and partial skulls from an ancient cave dated as 0.78 Myr old (Bermudez de Castro et al., 1997). Tools associated with the Spanish fossils indicate a pre-Acheulean industry. These peoples have been named Homo antecessor,members of a species that is claimed to include the common ancestors of Neanderthals and modern Homo sapiens. This species might be close to H. heidelbergensis,butfurther finds are required.

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