Next to the huge amount of fossils, one of the most important characteristics of the Sima de los Huesos de Atapuerca, in Burgos, is the splendid state of the remains found. They are so well preserved that the 27 complete bones of 500,000 years ago have been able to be rebuilt.
“This incredible collection allows us to estimate the height of species such as Homo heidelbergensis, which lived in Europe during the Middle Pleistocene epoch.”, As explained Jose Miguel Carretero Diaz, researcher at the Human Evolution Laboratory of the University of Burgos and author of the study that has been published in the Journal of Human Evolution.
Furthermore, as the bones were complete, the researchers were able to determine whether they belonged to a male or female and therefore calculate the height of this species. “Estimates to date were based on incomplete bone samples, the length of which had to be estimated. They also used to use formulas based on the reference population and they were not even sure of its origin”, Stressed the researcher.
The results suggest that the men and women of the Sima de los Huesos averaged slightly taller than Neanderthal men and women. The height of these two species is similar to that of today's population located in mid-latitudes, such as in Central Europe and the Mediterranean.
As indicated, the height of the genus Homo it remained more or less stable for two million years, until Homo Sapiens appeared, a species significantly taller than any other at the time. "Homo Sapiens had a slimmer body, lighter bones, and longer legs”, Said the researcher.
According to experts, the biggest advantage of this new body type was increased stamina and energy. Carretero Díaz indicated that “The fact of having larger legs, narrower hips, being taller and having lighter bones, not only meant a reduction in body weight, but also meant the ability to obtain a greater speed since the energy cost of moving the body to walk or run was lower”.
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