Previous studies have dated this division about 430,000 years ago, in the middle Pleistocene, the Daily Mail reports.
Researchers at University College London analyzed the development of teeth in different types of hominids, with particular attention to early Neanderthals. According to scientists, representatives of the genus Homo from the cave Sima de los Huesos in Spain moved away from the ancestors of modern man earlier than previously thought.
Over the past decades, about four thousand bones and three dozen complete skeletons of people were found in this cave, including the remains of a "Heidelberg man", the supposed ancestor of Neanderthals. The age of this site of the Middle Pleistocene is estimated at 430 thousand years.
Lead author, Dr. Aida Gomez-Robles, said: "The hominids from Sima de los Huesos are characterized by very small back teeth (premolars and molars) that have many similarities to classic Neanderthals. It is likely that these small and Neanderthal teeth of human ancestors came from large and primitive teeth, present in the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans. "
Thus, about 430,000 years ago, a separation in the shape of the teeth has already occurred. although, according to previous estimates of scientists, it should have just begun. There is a small chance that the Neanderthals from Cima de los Huesosa were subject to extremely high rates of evolution.
Read also: Alzheimer's disease can be detected 34 years before its onset.
For example, these hominids could live in isolation and be exposed to factors that were not in the habitat of other Neanderthals. Also, the inhabitants of the caves may not have been representatives of the Neanderthals or the modern human line, but rather hybrids, arising from the earlier crossing.
However, as Aida Gomez-Robles writes, “the simplest explanation of the results presented in this study is that Neanderthals and modern people diverged as species before (800,000 years ago), and this would make the evolution of the Neanderthals' teeth approximately comparable to that found in other species of the genus Homo. "