A human mandible (BH-1) from the Pleistocene deposits of Mala Balanica cave (Sićevo Gorge, Niš, Serbia)

Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
Journal of Human Evolution (Impact Factor: 3.73). 08/2011; 61(2):186-96. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.03.003
Source: PubMed


Neandertals and their immediate predecessors are commonly considered to be the only humans inhabiting Europe in the Middle and early Late Pleistocene. Most Middle Pleistocene western European specimens show evidence of a developing Neandertal morphology, supporting the notion that these traits evolved at the extreme West of the continent due, at least partially, to the isolation produced by glacial events. The recent discovery of a mandible, BH-1, from Mala Balanica (Serbia), with primitive character states comparable with Early Pleistocene mandibular specimens, is associated with a minimum radiometric date of 113 + 72 - 43 ka. Given the fragmented nature of the hemi-mandible and the fact that primitive character states preclude assignment to a species, the taxonomic status of the specimen is best described as an archaic Homo sp. The combination of primitive traits and a possible Late Pleistocene date suggests that a more primitive morphology, one that does not show Neandertal traits, could have persisted in the region. Different hominin morphologies could have survived and coexisted in the Balkans, the "hotspot of biodiversity." This first hominin specimen to come from a secure stratigraphic context in the Central Balkans indicates a potentially important role for the region in understanding human evolution in Europe that will only be resolved with more concentrated research efforts in the area.

Download full-text


Available from: Mike W Morley,
  • Source
    • "andertal movements from Europe towards southwest Asia in OIS 6 or 5 as evidenced by the fossil record (Hublin 1998) or earlier Middle Pleistocene Balkan fossils' affinities with southwest Asia suggest that the Balkans had a transitional role between the east and the west (Dennell et al. 2011; Roksandic et al. 2011; Rink et al. 2013). Moreover, similarities in lithic industries also support links with southwest Asia (Kozlowski 1992; Mihailović et al. 2011; Rink et al. 2013) indicating that acquiring more datasets on the variation of Neandertal technological behavior is of special importance. "

    Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Research in the Central Balkans, Edited by D. Mihailovic, 01/2014: pages 83-96; Serbian Archaeological Society.
  • Source
    • "At present, central and western Mediterranean Europe play an important role in the search for data regarding the Hn/AMHs shift and this region will surely be increasingly significant, thanks to its geographical and palaeoecological setting as a refuge area. Animals and hominins followed the river and the valleys of the corridor from Asia Minor to Europe, through the Balkan peninsula, and recent claims following new Neandertal discoveries have stressed that the lack of evidence for this species in southeastern Europe may simply be attributed to a lack of systematic research (Harvati et al., 2009; Roksandic et al., 2011). It is therefore necessary to underline the key importance of data from these regions in order to better understand the migratory fluxes and the arrival of new species (AMHs), bringing with them a different gene pool, as well as different cultural traditions and behavioral strategies. "

    Quaternary International 12/2013; 259:1–6. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.09.009 · 2.06 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "However, as noted above, the site of Vallparadís in north-eastern Spain may date from the period of this hiatus; if so, it may indicate that hominin residency was more continuous at lower altitudes and close to the coast in Iberia. There is some evidence in favour of complex dynamics and highly fragmented populations in Early Pleistocene Europe, in the form of the Ceprano calvarium (Manzi et al., 2001), the recently published mandible of Mala Balanica (Serbia) (Roksandic et al., 2011), and the inference of a 1 Ma old hominin lineage from the aDNA of a 38e40 ka hominin bone from Denisova, Siberia (Krause et al., 2010). Despite its primitive morphology, the Ceprano calvarium has recently been redated to the middle Middle Pleistocene (Manzi et al., 2010a; Muttoni et al., 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent discoveries of evidence for hominin activity in Britain before MIS 13 challenge previous understanding of the nature of the earliest colonization of NW Europe. Insights into the nature of colonization in this region may be obtained by examining the much richer fossil and archaeological record from Iberia. It has generally been assumed that southern Europe was permanently occupied after the first appearance of hominins in the region, and that it provided a reliable source for populations re-colonizing areas further north. However, continuity of occupation in these southern areas is still to be demonstrated. This paper provides an outline of the palaeoenvironmental, archaeological and fossil evidence from Iberia during the Early Pleistocene and early Middle Pleistocene. This evidence is used to argue that hominin occupation in this region and time period was discontinuous. This may help to address a number of questions about the earliest occupation history of NW Europe: who were the colonists and where did they come from? Were they strongly limited by climatic conditions? Were source populations always available in nearby areas, and did this influence the permanency of occupation in this region?
    Quaternary International 08/2012; 271. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.10.009 · 2.06 Impact Factor
Show more