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The boy from the Gran Dolina was actually a girl


Dental analysis of the famous fossil from the Sierra de Atapuerca, in Burgos, reveals that the remains belong to a young woman between 9 and 11 years old

One of the most famous fossils in Europe, found in the Sierra de Atapuerca, in Burgos, and belonging to the species

Homo antecessor,

is of a young woman between 9 and 11 years old and not of a man, as had been believed until now .

Cecilia García-Campos, a researcher at the National Center for Human Evolution Research (CENIEH), tells by telephone that the dental analysis of the fossils helped reveal the sexual identity of this individual who lived more than 800,000 years ago.

"The boy from the Gran Dolina was actually a girl," says García-Campos.

The conclusions of the study, which is published today in the

Journal of Anthropological Sciences

, show that the canine teeth of the individual H3, known until now as the "boy from the Great Dolina", in reference to the title of an emblematic book about José María Bermúdez de Castro, are female.

"We are based on the study of dental tissues to find the sexual differences of the fossils", explains García-Campos.

According to the scientist, women tend to have greater dimensions of tooth enamel and men a greater component of dentin, the bone structure that supports the tooth.

"In this case we discovered to our surprise that the remains were of a young woman who had probably died in a fight for territory, with cannibalized features."

The human remains found in the Gran Dolina have been analyzed by many researchers.

However, to date it had not been possible to assess the sexual dimorphism of this population because most of the individuals included in the sample are young.

José María Bermúdez de Castro, coordinator of the CENIEH Paleobiology Program and co-director of the Atapuerca sites, explains in a press release that until now only the sex of a small tooth fragment was known, from which enamel proteins were obtained. .

And he adds: "But this study carried out by our group now opens up a new, very reliable way to estimate sex using a non-destructive method."

The study affirms that the sexual estimation methodology used has a success rate of 92.3%, similar to that obtained when analyzing a coxal or a skull.

“The advantage that teeth give you is that they are the best preserved skeletal parts of the entire human body and are also formed very early in the lives of individuals.

This allows us to estimate the sex of the youngest, ”says García-Campos.

For the researcher, the relevance of this discovery is more on the social plane.

"Being able to give a female name to an emblematic fossil in Europe serves to make visible the role of women in the history of human evolution," he says.

The finding, which shows that a young woman was involved in a process of interaction between groups that turned out to be violent, helps to rethink the role of women in these societies.

"The girl from the Gran Dolina question the traditional gender roles that are still preserved in which the woman is at home and the man at work," says García-Campos.

And he concludes: “These works help to change the imaginary collective imagination of the female in the cave with two young or tanning skins.

And they show us that they participated in hunting tasks and in disputes over territory ”.

The scientist acknowledges that there was no prior scientific reason for Bermúdez de Castro to have decided that the remains of this fossil were from a man.

“It came up randomly. When Jose María decided to make the book, he chose this masculine name, but for no specific reason.

It has been necessary to wait for these new techniques to be able to know the sex with certainty ”, explains García-Campos.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2021-03-16

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