For the first time in a fossil of a Neanderthal was found in the Netherlands, a piece of skull of a young man.
The fragment of the Neanderthals typical strong eyebrow arch was discovered along the Dutch coast in an area described as a drowned Stone Age hunting ground. It is the first human fossil in the world that comes from the sea.
The bone fragment is believed to belong to a late Neanderthal man and has been dated at around 60,000 years old.
Studies on the composition of the bone showed that the man mainly ate meat, like other Neanderthals.
The skull’s owner may have belonged to one of the first Dutch human. The skull fragment was not in good enough condition to be dated using carbon dating, which could provide a more precise estimate of its age, but its shape corresponds closely to those of other Neanderthal skulls aged at 50,000-60,000 years.
The landscape at the time would have been one of wide river valleys, flood plains and lakes, populated by large herds of herbivores. An analysis of the skull indicates that its owner had a diet dominated by meat, suggesting that he lived as a hunter.
The research will be published in the Journal of Human Evolution.
Its discovery is likely to intensify scientific interest in the area, known as the Zeeland Ridges, where the skull was buried.
Scientists hope that the find will highlight the importance of legislating to allow scientists priority access to fossils. Most from the North Sea recovered found ends up on eBay.
Scientists from Belgium, Holland and Britain are working to set up a joint international research program, which would create more opportunities to explore the seabed themselves.
The ‘Krijn’ fossil will be
on display in Leiden until September 27.