J Hum Evol. 2001 Aug;41(2):133-40.

Hominid skull fragments from Late Pleistocene layers in Leine Valley (Sarstedt, District of Hildesheim, Germany).

Czarnetzki A, Gaudzinski S, Pusch CM.

Department of Palaeoanthropology and Osteology, Institute of Anthropology and Human Genetics, University of Tubingen, Wilhelmstrasse 27, Tubingen, 72074, Germany. paleoczarn@uni-tuebingen.de

Three cranial fragments were recovered from coarse-grained deposits dug up by a suction dredge from gravel pits on the Leine river flats in the vicinity of Sarstedt (northwestern Germany). Also recovered were a number of artefacts which, upon careful inspection, could be assigned to the Middle Paleolithic. The geological pattern of the Leine Valley in this region suggests that these fragments were deposited in the lower terrace during a yet undetermined warm period-possibly Brorup or Odderade-during the Weichsel glaciation. However, attribution to the Eemian period or a Saale interstadial cannot be ruled out. The features of the Sarstedt (Sst) I infant temporal are known from Neanderthals (e.g., Weimar-Ehringsdorf, Engis, Krapina 1) and can be seen in specimens from the European late- Homo erectus group as well. Subadult individuals do not always exhibit full development of features characteristic for adults and-to some extent-anticipate the succeeding developmental stage (i.e., neoteny). The Neanderthal autapomorphies characterizing the fragments of the occipital and the parietal are certainly consistent with assigning both unequivocally to the species H. neanderthalensis. The presence of Middle Paleolithic artefacts recovered from the same deposits are commensurate with the presence of Neanderthals. However, there is no clear contextual association of any archaeological and fossil human material. Future DNA research will hopefully add up to the established morphological picture. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.