The ancestors of modern day humans, Homo antecessor, may have walked the Earth more than 900,000 years ago after researchers found that the sediment of Gran Dolina, where the first remains were found, dated at least 900,000 years old.
The findings at the Lower Palaeolithic cave site of Gran Dolina, in the Sierra de Atapuerca mountain range (Burgos), have led to major advancements in our knowledge of human evolution and occupation of Eurasia.
In 1995, specifically, the discovery of the first hominid remains in a stratum of land named TD6, which dated from more than 780,000 years back, was made public. This was the Homo antecessor, the oldest known hominid species in Europe.
Josep M. Pares, from the Spanish National Research Centre for Human Evolution, who is leading this study on the new dating of level TD6 of the Gran Dolina, told SINC that they are applying new methods and techniques, and we also have better field and laboratory knowledge.
He said that they have published a study that represents a small step towards a large project which will take us longer: reviewing all the dates in order to refine them. We want to include it all within a more solid geochronological framework.
Pares said that on the one hand we employ paramagnetic resonance, and on the other what is known as optically stimulated luminescence. This provides numerical dates, absolute ages.
He said that they have reviewed these and combined them with the new figures from palaeomagnetism in order to expand upon the chronology of this level TD6 of the Gran Dolina and the fossils it contains.
The study has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.