The website of Atapuerca closes a campaign “prodigal of archaeological and paleontological discoveries”, they say from the foundation that bears his name in a press release where they take stock of a month of excavations. Undoubtedly, the great protagonist was the partial face of a human being, who lived in the Sierra de Atapuerca around 1.4 million years ago and whose remains ended up in the Sima del Elefante. His discovery was made public a few days later, but he had no name at the time. Now, the team led by researchers Juan Luis Arsuaga, Eudal Carbonel there Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro decided to name it ‘Pink‘, in honor of the British rock band pink floyd already your disc ‘The Dark Side of the Moon‘ (The dark side of [cara] of the month).
These remains, which are made up of the fragments that make up the left part of a face: a maxilla, the edge of the nose, the malar bone (which forms the cheek and part of the orbit) and the alveoli of the teeth, They were found in the K29 sector, two meters below a jawbone that the abyss had already revealed in 2007 and which was then dated between 1.1 and 1.3 million years.
“The 2022 campaign at the Sima del Elefante site must be described as extraordinary”, they point out from the Atapuerca Foundation. Evidence of the presence of groups of hominins (subtribe of hominid primates characterized by upright posture and bipedal locomotion, ancestor of Homo sapiens) in timelines around 1.4 million years ago (level 7) began to be noted last season with the discovery of a quartz flake. At the beginning of the current campaign, the identification of cut marks on a fragment of the rib of a medium-sized animal (deer type) confirmed said human presence in the Sierra de Atapuerca. However, the discovery of the partial face of a hominid marks a new step compared to the oldest human occupations in Europe, around 1.4 million years ago.
They point out that the importance of said fossil is not only chronological, “but the recovered remains will make it possible to determine what the face of these individuals looked like and to know the origin of the face of our species”.
Other remains recovered during this campaign are, on the one hand, a Neanderthal human tooth found on the site of the Gallery of Interior Statues; and, on the other hand, a “no rest”, since it is only DNA recovered directly from the sediments of the caves, where they cooked, slept, urinated… In short, where they lived. In fact, in April this year, a publication appeared in the magazine ‘Science‘ in which they explained how they extracted the genetic material, no bones neededfrom the floor of two caves in the Altai mountains in Siberia (Denisova and Chagyrscaya) and, more specifically, from the gallery of statues in the Major cave, in Atapuerca.
320 researchers in total
During the 2022 campaign, about 320 researchers participated in the excavations of the Sima del Elefante, Galería, Gran Dolina, Cueva Fantasma sites, ─all located in the railway trench─; in the Cueva del Mirador; in Cueva Mayor (sites of Portalón, Sima de los Huesos and Gallery of Interior and Exterior Statues) and in the open-air village of Valdeprovedo.
In addition, sediment washing works have been carried out on the banks of the Arlanzón River, as it passes through Ibeas de Juarros (Burgos).