Neanderthal child tooth and parietal fragment discovered at Teixoneres Cave (Barcelona, Spain)
CENIEH/DICYT It is not common to find human remains in a Pleistocene archaeological site; nevertheless, they are very significant and can be used in numerous research fields. The analysis of the characters of each fossil gives us valuable information in order to understand not only the variability of a species, but also its diet type or its development patterns.
The fieldwork of this season at Teixoneres Cave has been relevant in this aspect. To a large amount of faunal specimens and stone tools that were recovered, one should add the tooth of a Neanderthal child who lived in Teixoneres Cave more than 50,000 years ago. According to José María Bermúdez de Castro, from the CENIEH, and María Martinón-Torres, from the UCL, it is a lower canine with a high degree of wear and it is estimated that it could correspond to an individual between 7 and 9 years old. The tooth still keeps the root and therefore indicates that it felt from normal natural causes, such as tooth replacement. To this finding, we have to add a parietal fragment that also belongs to an immature individual.
These fossils opens up new perspectives to the research that takes place at Teixoneres Cave in order to know who their inhabitants were. In the case of the canine, its detailed study will allow to find out the sex of the individual and to help elucidate the passage from childhood to puberty among members of this human species. Moreover, paleogenetics studies will be performed to better understand the phylogenetic relationships of the human groups from this region with the inhabitants of the different areas of Europe during the same period.
The 2016 excavation at Teixoneres Cave, from August 5th to 24th, is supported by the Council of Moià. The importance at the scientific level that are acquiring this archaeological site brought together researchers from different institutions from Spain and other countries, such as the Università degli Studi di Ferrara, the Tel Aviv University and the Binghamton University in New York. The research at Teixoneres Cave belongs to a project entitled ‘Sharing space: The interaction between hominids and carnivores in the Northeast of the Iberian Peninsula’, which is funded by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Num. Ref. 2014-100573)” supervised by Ruth Blasco (CENIEH), Jordi Rosell (IPHES-URV) and Florent Rivals (ICREA-IPHES).