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Heidelberg Man 'was common ancestor of Neanderthals, humans'.

Washington, May 5 (ANI): A new study has shed light on what the species that gave rise to both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens looked like.

Anthropologists believe the last common ancestor of humans and Neanderthals was a tall, well-traveled species called Heidelberg Man.

The determination is based on the remains of a single Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis) known as "Ceprano," named after the town near Rome, Italy, where his fossil-a partial cranium-was found.

Previously, this 400,000-year-old fossil was thought to represent a new species of human, Homo cepranensis.

The latest study, however, identifies Ceprano as being an archaic member of Homo heidelbergensis.

"Considering other fossils that can be lumped together with Ceprano in H. eidelbergensis, we can hypothesize that the 'Ceprano-morphotype' was tall, with a strong mandible (jaw) and small teeth," the Discovery News quoted co-author Silvana Condemi as saying.

In addition to identifying Ceprano as a Heidelberg Man, the analysis found notable similarities with other human-associated fossils from Europe dating to the Middle Pleistocene 781,000 to 126,000 years ago. Connections were also made to early human fossils from Africa.

The researchers therefore believe that Homo heidelbergensis was widespread, dispersing throughout Eurasia and Africa beginning around 780,000 years ago.

The study has been published in PLoS One. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:May 5, 2011
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