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.

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    • "Both Middle and Upper Palaeolithic artifacts were found in Salitrena, Tabula Traiana and Had zi Prodanova caves, and single or few artifacts in Prekono ska, Pe curski kamen and Pe cina pod crvenim stenama caves (Mihailovi c et al., 1997; Mihailovi c D. and Mihailovi c B., 2003; Mihailovi c B., 2008; Mihalilovi c D., 2008; Bori c et al., 2012). Human remains have been found only in Mala Balanica (Roksandi c et al., 2011). Faunal diversity at different sites was influenced by the varied modes of bone accumulation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cave bear remains are known from 36 caves and other karst features, and from one open-air site in Serbia. The sites vary greatly by their morphology and size, position, altitude, stratigraphy and diversity of the fossil fauna. The cave bear stands out as a dominant species at the majority of the sites; at a number of sites it is the single species found. There are only few sites where herbivores’ or predators’ remains exceed those of the cave bears. The majority of cave bear remains originate from the Late Pleistocene deposits. Previously, they have been identified as Ursus spelaeus. We present a morphology and metric study of cave bears from three sites: two recently discovered localities of Middle Pleistocene age, and the Risova�ca cave, which may be regarded as the reference site for the Late Pleistocene mammals in the region based on a large number of collected remains and published data. The remains of the Middle Pleistocene spelaeoid bears are described from Mala Balanica cave (Eastern Serbia) and an open-air site at Ruma brickyard (Northern Serbia) for the first time. Considering the size and morphology of cheek teeth and metapodial bones, these cave bears are identified as Ursus spelaeus deningeroides. The cheek teeth morphology and size, as well as metapodial bones’ metric, relate the cave bear from the Risova�ca cave to the advanced evolutive type of the cave bear established in Central and Eastern Europe Ursus spelaeus ingressus.
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    • "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. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2014
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    • "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. "

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