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Sima de los Huesos

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  • Sima de los Huesos

    Important site in Spain. Dating based on the half-life of Uranium in the stalagmites that cover the level the remains are at suggest the site is around 400, 000 years old. This would make it comparable in age to Swanscombe in England.

    The "pit of bones" contains bones of robust and fairly tall individuals who are probably early Neanderthalers. There are few very young or old in the chamber - they're mostly adolescents and young adults. How they got there is a matter of doubt.

    The teeth are heavily worn but show no signs of decay. They have scratch marks on them, probably produced by holding a piece of meat or a hide with the teeth (in the left-hand: they're right-handers, like most of us) and cutting it or scraping it with a flint. They also seem to have used toothpicks. One individual would have had an inflamed face probably caused by abscesses on his teeth, which likely killed him. (He also has thirteen possible injuries.) There could be arthritis in the jaw joints of some of the skulls. One probably had an ear infection that could have left him deaf.

    On the pathology:

    There's a little on Atapuerca and its remains here: