View Full Version : Modern Humans or Neandertals? New Evidence Sheds Light on Cave Fossils' Age

Monday, May 23rd, 2005, 05:27 PM
Modern humans or Neandertals? New evidence sheds light on cave fossils' age

The human fossil evidence from the Mladeč Caves in Moravia, Czech Republic, excavated more than 100 years ago, has been proven for the first time, through modern radiocarbon dating, to be the oldest cranial, dental and postcranial assemblage of early modern humans in Europe.

A team of researchers from the Natural History Museum in Vienna, from the University of Vienna in Austria and from the Washington University, USA recently conducted the first successful direct dating of the material. Several previous attempts to radiocarbon date the Mladeč specimens directly have failed, but in the present attempt by using teeth as dating material reliable results were obtained. The findings are now documented in a recent issue of Nature.

The dating results document that these samples are as old as we thought they should be, agree Maria Teschler-Nicola from the Natural History Museum in Vienna and Erik Trinkaus from the Washington University in St. Louis, the two anthropologists involved in this study. The Mladeč samples date to around 31,000 years ago, reports Eva Maria Wild from the VERA (Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator) Laboratory at University of Vienna, where the radiocarbon dating has been performed. This is the oldest assemblage of modern humans in Europe which retains many portions of the skeleton plus archaeological objects from the Aurignacian period. Only the two human specimen from a site in Romania are dated to ~35,000 years and are accordingly older. At Mladeč there are multiple individuals - at least 5 or 6 represented. The dating shows that the Mladeč assemblage is central to discussions of modern human emergence in Europe and the fate of the Neandertals as well as discussions of the association of early modern humans with the Aurignacian culture.

The Mladeč remains are universally accepted as those of early modern humans. However, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether they exhibit also distinctive archaic features, indicative of some degree of Neandertal ancestry, or are morphologically aligned solely with recent humans and therefore document only a dispersal of modern humans into Europe.

The radiocarbon dating of the Mladeč assemblage confirms that they derived from the time period of the middle to late Aurignacian of Central Europe. Given the presence of multiple individuals, males and females, adult and immature with cranial, dental and postcranial elements, the Mladeč assemblage becomes the oldest directly dated substantial assemblage of modern human remains in Europe.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Monday, May 23rd, 2005, 11:06 PM
Does this Mladec cave material have another name, an older name with which even I might be familiar. I have never heard this name before.

Monday, May 23rd, 2005, 11:21 PM
Does this Mladec cave material have another name, an older name with which even I might be familiar. I have never heard this name before.
The sample from the Moravian karst elicit more recognition under its former German name, Lautsch.

Mladec 5 draws special attention, because its supra-orbital torus, while modern in structure, bears great resemblance to the late Neanderthals in Southeast Europe and its cranial contour matches closest to Chapelle-aux-Saints. For some the Mladec specimens support a regional continuity in Central Europe, Neanderthalers leading into modern Europeans.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Monday, May 23rd, 2005, 11:23 PM
Thanks Frans!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005, 04:24 AM
The Moravian UP races:


Three skeletons were exhumed in uncomplete conditions, which exception of Brünn III, belonging to a female, on which facial measurements could be done. The oldest find(1885) comes from the Red Mountain and more than that it was markedly dolichocranial(LBI 73.2) and the forehead narrow with 90mm can't be deduced from the limited record. A better document is provided for the in 1891 exhumed calvaria of a male, which goes by the name of the Franz Joseph Street-specimen.It is hyperdolichocranial like Combe Capelle which whom favourable comparisons have been the rule despite the scant evidence; nevertheless both attain equally a LBI of 65.7. The skull is similarly elevated with a low index seen in profile(68.6), but quite high in the rear(104.5).

Brünn III is a strong dolicranial skull(70.2) and very high(75.7; thus hypsicranial which is not a quality of Combe Capelle, who was low orthocranial with 70.2; in Upper Paleolithic Europe real high-skulledness is seldom reached and associated more properly with the small-set incipient mongolid traits bearing Chancelade race). The nasal and orbital indices indicate medium sizes: NI 50,Orb.I 81. The breadth of the face was for the era uncharacteristically very narrow with a mere 121mm.


The twenty skeletons of this site are splendidly uniform, leaving only some minor differences to be queasy at, which fall within an acceptable margin of intraracial variability. N°3, a male, consitutes for Montandon the <<paradigme de la série>>, the best representative of this race. He was tall, 177cm, like the other members of the sepulchre, but somehow they all fall short to the Cro Magnons of the Dordogne and Balzi Rossi/Baoussé-Roussé(Italian Riviera), ranging for a meritable medium size for the women and general tallness for the males. His braincase feature a tremendous capacity, 1610cc, which was previously easy obtained by the Neanderthalers; dolichoid with 71.9, he was too low vaulted(LHI 66), HBI 91.7. The bizygomatic breadth of 142mm is un-Nordic and lies between Combe Capelle(140mm) and Cro Magnon(143mm), the others have however narrower faces.

His upper face ranks a mesene value (53.7), which here also ties in with his mesoprosopy(87,3). The skull has a bun-like extremiity behind the skull in a Neanderthaler fashion(still existent in Lapps and Finns!), which counteract the massive face with its low and large mandible and the coarse thick projecting supraorbitals with receding forehead; the nose is narrow, though. Like in Combe Capelle and the Neanderthalers the chin fleeding or weak-developed. Seen from behind the skull has a <<double-tented>> shape. Despite the strong muscular attachments the bones are generally gracile and in proportion fully Europid(semi-negroism in Cro Magnon, some Melanesian resemblances in Combe Capelle, the sub-negroid features in Mechta el-Arbi).


Mladec I corresponds in many particularities with Predmost, the other members lack the same homogenous complex of traits, which display the possible results of infusion of Cro Magnon and Chancelade. Males have low and less verticle foreheads, unlike their women, as well more angled occipital areas with lambdoidal flattenning(the latter is know too in cromagnids!). N°5 and 6 stand off from the rest by the Brux element, named after a site in the Czech Republic, where an alledged Cro Magnon+Neanderthaler hybrid had been found, however the presumption may be far-fledged since only a calva, the vault without the rest of the skull, was available, but it still can demonstrate the providence, since calvas are usefull in discerning Modern Humans from Neanderthalers; the indices for Moderbs are 50-64, for Neanderthal Man 40-44, Brux now situates itself intermediary with 46-48.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Wednesday, May 25th, 2005, 05:16 AM
Wow, a cc of 1610 for Predmost? That may be the biggest sapiens skull ever. In fact, it may be a diagnostic characteristic if if does exceed the range of sapiens and go toward proving a Neanderthal (partial) ancestry.

Wasn't the Lautsch face (or one of them) rather broad and wasn't the cranium near becoming round headed? Wasn't this one of the skulls offered as evidence for a Borreby race?