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HOMINID – Study Group on Human Origins: ten years supporting research and dissemination on the origin and evolution of hominids

By 28 de April de 2006November 18th, 2020No Comments
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HOMINID – Study Group on Human Origins: ten years supporting research and dissemination on the origin and evolution of hominids

In 1856, a skull and several skeletal fragments of a species of the Homo genus were discovered in the Feldhofer cave, in the Neander valley, close to Düsseldorf (Germany), a little before the publication of the famous book entitled "The Origin of Species", by Charles Darwin. These were fossil remains of , a species around which there is considerable debate and controversy regarding its role in the evolution of the humans.

All the myths and scientific evidence surrounding Neanderthals will be addressed in the conference “Neanderthal: memories of a fossil”, to be held on 2 and 3 May at the Parc Científic de Barcelona(PCB, Barcelona Science Park), on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the , located at the PCB and promoted by the archaeologist Jordi Serrallonga at the University of Barcelona. On 2 May 1996, the HOMINID group was constituted in an act held in the Aula Magna of the Faculty of Biology and was chaired by Phillip V. Tobias (Universitat de Witwatersrand, Republic of South Africa), Jordi Sabater i Pi (emeritus professor of the UB) and John Desmond Clark (University of California, Berkeley). During these ten years, the group has been present in international forums and has excelled in providing research support and dissemination activities about the origin, evolution and behaviour of the first hominids from a new multidisciplinary perspective.

“Neanderthal: memories of a fossil” will give a multidisciplinary view of Neanderthal paleoanthropology, archaeology and genetics, and coincides with the 150th anniversary of the discover of the remains in the Neander valley. The first Homo neanderthalensis fossils were discovered in 1830 in the Engis cave (Belgium) and in 1848 in the Forbes quarry in Gibraltar. However, at that time they were not identified. In 1864, the Irish anatomist William King gave the first definition of the new species: Homo neanderthalensis. Neanderthals are one of the most studied and largest fossil record in archeological and paleontologic remains from the Palaeolithic period. Neanderthals were distributed throughout Europe and western Asia from about 200,000 to 30,000 years ago and the Iberian peninsula marked the south-western distributional limit. Neanderthals knew how to use fire, they had used complex tools and buried their dead (in the Shanidar cave, Iraq, evidence of pollen has been found in a burial ground). After coexisting with Cro-Magnons (the first modern humans or Homo sapiensHomo sapiens) for almost ten thousand years, Neanderthals disappeared. Evidence indicates that Neanderthals have not made a significant contribution to the genetic profile of modern humans.