- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2007


A 40,000-year-old human skull found in Romania shows that early Europeans shared modern and Neanderthal traits, suggesting the two species may have mixed.

The skull fragments — which researchers say are the earliest modern human remains found in Europe — were discovered in a cave in southwestern Romania, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The reconstructed cranium, named Oase 2, has the same proportions as modern human skulls and shares several non-Neanderthal features, but it also has a flat forehead and the largest cheek teeth so far known for a modern human.

“Such differences raise important questions about the evolutionary history of modern humans,” said one of the lead researchers, Joao Zilhao of University of Bristol.

The skull fragments were found during a project led by Mr. Zilhao and Erik Trinkaus of Washington University between 2003 and 2005. Neanderthals lived in Europe, parts of Central Asia and the Middle East for about 170,000 years until they inexplicably disappeared 28,000 to 30,000 years ago.

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