Tautavel Man
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About Tautavel Man:

In the village of Tautavel is located in the South of France, one of the most ancient humans presently known in Europe was found: the Tautavel Man. The village Tautavel is situated in the Catalan Corbieres, located between the sea and the mountains, at the bottom of the foothills of the Pyrenees, and 30 km from Perpignan. Prehistoric humans chose this territory for hunting and which fully covered with vineyards. By famous in 1971 they found refuge in the Arago Cave, 450,000 year-old Tautavel Man was discovered.

The major phases of the discovery

All of these discoveries offer proof that Tautavel Man is an ancestor of Neanderthal man, was slightly different from his contemporaries living Asia and Africa. This is why the genus bears the name of Homo erectus tautavelensis.

1964 - The archaeological operation begins.

1969 - Mandibule Arago 2 - The Arago 2 mandible was discovered in the middle of cooking remains of animals eaten by prehistoric hunters. Tools were spread in the area. This jaw is fractured, and it possibly belonged to a woman between forty and fifty years old. The jaw is usually pre-Neanderthal.

1970 - Mandibule Arago 13 - The Discovery of mandible is about twenty. The third molar showed very small wear. This is an old pre-Neanderthal mandible.

1971 - Skull Arago 21 - A human skull was found in the middle of culinary remains, like all the other humans in the Arago Cave. The floor was spread with a layer of large stones that were carried in by humans. The individual was young, not more than twenty years old, the third molar was whole, and the fronto-parietal suture had not yet closed. The skull is that of a healthy male with a moving back forehead, large brow ridges, a markedly protruding lower jaw and low cranial capacity. All of these are character of European Homo erectus, the ancestor of Neanderthal Man.

1973 - Tooth Arago 27
1975 - Fibula Arago 33
1978 - Hip bone Arago 44 - The discovery of this left hip bone confirming that the man was bipedal. Skull Arago 21 and Argo 44 both are found in the same period.

1979 - Parietal bone Arago 47 - The Right parietal bone is three meters from the skull Arago 21. They both are fit together perfectly.

1980 - Femur Arago 51
1981 - Tooth Arago 54
2000 - Humerus Arago 82
2001 - Mandible Arago 89

The reconstruction, the skull

The people of Tautavel are among the oldest human remains ever discovered in Europe. The numerous human remains found in the Arago Cave come from different individuals, allowing us to reconstruct the morphology of Tautavel Man.

Cranial remains are the most frequent. The skull most famous among them, it consists of the Arago 21 face and forehead and the Arago 47 right parietal bone. Molding techniques were employed to fill up in the missing temporal and occipital areas, using fossil bones from contemporary individuals, one from Java and the other from Swanscombe, England.

This skull is very powerful, with its low, receding forehead and thick ridge over the eyes (known as the supraorbital torus). The face is very large and with large eye-sockets. The mandibles lower jaws are characterized by lack of a chin.

Mechanically, Tautavel Man had the equipment for speech. A cast of the interior of the skull appears to verify this, as it shows the presence of zones of the brain that are responsible for language. The cranial capacity of Tautavel Man is 1,100 cm3, was much lower than that of modern man.

These characteristics are those of people who lived before Neanderthal Man, and whom we identify that pre-Neanderthal Homo erectus.

Several Possible Interpretations

The various skull fragments thus brought together offer the possibility of a new line of research by precisely measuring the space between the eye-sockets, as well as the placement of the nose, ears and mouth, and by studying the surfaces where the face muscles were attached, it is possible to produce a sketch of what Tautavel Man looked like. This study does not, however, produce any information about flesh that was not anchored to bones (nose, lips and ears), or anything about Tautavel Man's facial and head hair or skin color. Several interpretations are thus possible.

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