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Hyoid bone fossils, Sima de los Huesos

Hyoid bone fossils, Sima de los Huesos

E436/0119

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Credit

JAVIER TRUEBA / MSF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAVIER TRUEBA / MSF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Fossilised hyoid bones, Sima de los Huesos. These hyoid (lingual) bones were found at Sima de los Huesos (Pit of Bones). This bone is found in the human neck, supported by the neck muscles. In turn, it supports the root of the tongue. It is an extraordinary find, as hyoid bones are fragile and unlikely to remain intact over long periods of time. The bones belong to Homo heidelbergensis and date back 400,000 years. Sima de los Huesos is one of several archaeological sites in Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain, that have been studied on and off over the past century, leading to a massive advancement in the understanding of human evolution. In 2000, Sierra de Atapuerca was made a world heritage site by UNESCO.

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