Scientists have confirmed that a tooth found in a cave in southern Poland is from a six-year old Neanderthal child – making it one of the oldest human remains to be discovered in the country.
The tooth also marks another important discovery, as it proves beyond doubt that Neanderthals roamed north of the Carpathian mountains.
Researchers at Wrocław University have been working on the tooth from the Stajna cave in the Polish Jura (Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska), a system of Jurassic origin which stretches between Kraków and Częstochowa.
The tooth was discovered, along with two others, by Dr Mikołaj Urbanowski, of Szczecin university, in 2008. Since then, the team in Wrocław have been studying the finds. The results of their work has been published in the online Journal of Human Evolution.
One of the other teeth was that of a 20-year-old man, and showed marks similar to those produced when a toothpick is used. All of the teeth are around 50,000 years old.
Pictures: Dr Wioletta Nowaczewska, Dr Paweł Dąbrowski and Dr Krzysztof Stefaniak announce their findings at a press conference on February 21 (left) and the tooth of the neanderthal child (right). Wrocław University