Human Evolution @ UCL


Winter is coming: Glaciations and human evolution in Europe

18 February 2016, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Juan Luis Arsuaga holding Cranium 5 attributed to Homo neanderthalensis

Event Information

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Room G6, UCL Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square, London, UK

2nd UCL Lecture on Climate and Human History

The second UCL Lecture on Climate and Human History will be given by Professor Juan Luis Arsuaga, Complutense University of Madrid, co-director of excavations of the early hominin site of Atapuerca. 

Arsuaga is mainly concerned with the fossil evidence for human evolution focusing on the Atapuerca sites, a series of caves located in a hill in northern Spain with a fossil record that spans from more than a million years ago up to the Bronze Age. In the Lower Pleistocene levels at the Gran Dolina site some 80 hominid fossils have been discovered. Dating to around 800,000 years ago, they represent some of the oldest human fossils in Europe. His teams analysis of these remains has led them to define a new species of hominin, Homo antecessor, which represents the last common ancestor of the Neanderthal and modern human lineages. The human remains from this site also represent the earliest evidence of cannibalistic practices in the fossil record. The Middle Pleistocene site of the Sima de los Huesos has yielded more than 3,000 hominid remains dated to between 350,000-400,000 years ago and representing at least 28 individuals. These hominins represent an early ancestor of Homo neanderthalensis. Together with the hominin fossils a single hand axe has been recovered, leading his team to suggest that Atapuerca represents the earliest evidence of both funerary practice and symbolic behavior.

Sponsored by UCL Past Climates Group, Department of Geography and Archaeological Sciences Section, Institute of Archaeology