Facial bones 1.4m years old excavated in Burgos, Northern Spain could rewrite human prehistory

Facial bones 1.4m years old excavated in Burgos, Northern Spain could rewrite human prehistory

Image of the caves in Atapuerca, Burgos. Credit: Google maps - Paco Puche

Human prehistory could be rewritten after the excavation in Burgos, Northern Spain of facial bone fossils dating back some 1.4 million years.


According to scientists involved in the landmark find, facial bones discovered in Burgos, northern Spain, date back 1.4 million years and could end up changing the book of human prehistory. They are the oldest human fossils ever unearthed on the European continent.

Speaking with Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, Aurora Martin, the archaeologist who is the general coordinator of the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos, said:  “We don’t yet know which first human species the fragments found belonged to”.

They were unearthed on an excavation site near Burgos, at the caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca at the end of June. Martin described the bones as: “a breakthrough that will help rewrite the history of human evolution”.

She emphasised: “Until 1994, it was known that there were no ancient human species in Europe until 500,000 years ago. Now we’re talking about 1.4 million years ago. In other words, we pushed back the evolution of humans in Europe 1 million years”.

“The new invention, which is the facial parts of a species, unearthed in the summer of 2022, belongs to 1.4 million years ago. This opens new doors for us and makes us ask a lot of new questions. We will try to find answers to these, but they will all be after research. We can’t give an answer right now”, added the archaeologist.

Atapuerca has been the source of several archaeological discoveries since it was first excavated back in 1976. The site was uncovered at the end of the 19th century while workers were laying a railway line. In 2007, human fossils dating back some 1.2 million years were previously dug up nearby. Until this latest find, they were the oldest fossils discovered in Europe.

The Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos is where all the Stone Age fossils are on display that have been found at the famous World Heritage Site.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com