A group of researchers has employed a variety of techniques for facial reconstruction to demonstrate what Homo heidelbergensis, which is a lesser-recognized Neanderthal ancestor that lived from 700,000 to 200 years ago, could be like.
What is Homo heidelbergensis?
Homo Heidelbergensis is an extinct species belonging to the genus Homo, which is recognized from fossils found within Africa, Europe, and possibly Asia. Some of the most well-known sites are Sima de los Huesos in Spain and the Mala Balanica cave in Serbia.
This species displayed remarkable behavioral and physical adaptations. For instance, we know that she was found in areas where the climate was more cold. His small and broad body would have enabled him to keep body heat within the colder climate. The species is also linked with the earliest evidence of the control of fire, which is crucial to survival in cold environments and also for cooking food.
Homo heidelbergensis is also the first human being to construct basic shelters in order to defend its inhabitants from predators and elements. To build this, the hominids made use of materials like stone and wood.
They also created bifaces (tools constructed from carved stones with edges carved in both directions) as well as other lithium-based tools. Additionally, it is believed to be the first to hunt large mammals such as elephants, deer, horses, and rhinoceros, as evident by the traces of butchery left in fossilized bones that have been found at various sites.
In addition, some scientists believe that the species developed in two different branches, with one giving birth to Neanderthals within Europe and the other giving birth to Homo sapiens, which is found in Africa. But the question is still being debated.
What was this species like?
In order to restore the appearance of this hominid, anthropologist Christina Papageorgopoulou and her team from the Democratic University of Thrace used the well-preserved skull from Petralona. The skull was discovered in 1960 as part of an exploration by amateurs of the Petralona cave in northern Greece. It is among the few complete anatomically complete human fossils from the middle Pleistocene. It is also among the oldest fossil discoveries found in Europe. (609 000 ans). It is likely to belong to an unidentified young man who was under 35 and weighed around 52 kilograms.
To approximate facial features, researchers took a scan of the skull’s original model using the Artec Spider 3D scanner. But the skull was missing a jaw. To overcome this issue, they utilized the Mauer jaw, which is the holotype of Homo heidelbergensis.
For researchers, the appearance of this hominide is an inclined forehead, huge eyebrows, and facial strength typical of Homo heidelbergensis, as well as other traits derived from it (mean of tooth length, as an instance), which distinguished it from Neanderthals as well as anatomically modern humans.