It is the first time that human remains are recovered in this site
These fossils open up new perspectives to the research that takes place at the Toll Caves in order to know who their inhabitants were
The excavations in the Toll Caves (Toll and Teixoneres, Barcelona, Spain) have been very productive from the scientific point of view this year. To a large amount of animal remains and stone tools that were recovered, the tooth and the parietal of a Neanderthal child who lived in Teixoneres Cave 50,000 years ago have been discovered. The tooth is a lower canine with a high degree of wear and it is estimated that it could correspond to an individual between 7 and 9 years old. The tooth still keeps the root and therefore indicates that it felt from normal natural causes, such as tooth replacement.
These fossils open up new perspectives to the research that takes place at the Toll Caves in order to know who their inhabitants were. In the prehistoric European record, children are represented by several individuals of different ages, but the number of lower canines is very scarce. The detailed study of the tooth will allow to find out the sex of the individual and to help elucidate the passage from childhood to puberty among members of this human species. Moreover, paleogenetics studies will be performed on the tooth and the parietal to better understand the phylogenetic relationships of the human groups from Moià with the inhabitants of the different regions of Europe during the same period.
The identification of the tooth has been confirmed by Prof. José María Bermúdez de Castro (CENIEH) and Dr. María Martinón-Torres (University College of London), both specialists in human fossil teeth.
Both Toll Cave and Teixoneres Cave are known to contain a significant record of the presence of Neanderthals in the region of Central Catalonia. The studies carried out at IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), Universitat Rovira i Virgili and CENIEH (Centro Nacional para el Estudio sobre la Evolución Humana) are providing significant data to understand how ecosystems are evolving in the area depending on the climate changes, and how the populations of the Middle Paleolithic were able to adapt to constant changes.
The 2016 excavations in the Toll Caves, from August 5th to 24th, are supported by the City of Moià. The importance at the scientific level that are acquiring these archaeological sites brought together researchers from different institutions from Spain and other countries. Thus, the team consists of 25 researchers from the institutions mentioned previously and the Universitat de Barcelona, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad de Murcia, the Università degli Studi di Ferrara, the Tel Aviv University and the Binghamton University in New York.
The research in both sites is part of a project entitled “Sharing the Space: hominid-carnivore interactions at the North-East of Iberian Peninsula” (Ref. 2014/100573 from Catalonian Government-AGAUR) supervised by Dr. Jordi Rosell (IPHES-URV, Dr. Florent Rivals (ICREA-IPHES) and Dr. Ruth Blasco (CENIEH).