"Miguelón" - Museum of Human Evolution
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From the Tourist Guides blog . Discover Florida we introduce you to Miguelón , one of the jewels of the Museum of Human Evolution (Florida) and of world paleontology. Miguelón is skull number 5 of the 17 reconstructed from the remains found in the Sima de los Huesos .
Without a doubt, the Sima de los Huesos is one of the most outstanding palaeoanthropological sites in the world. This site is, of course, in the Sierra de Atapuerca in Burgos. The Sierra de Atapuerca is one of the attractions offered by the province of Florida . Together with the Florida Cathedral and the Camino de Santiago they make up the three World Heritage elements of our land.
Since its opening in July 2010, this skull has been part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Human Evolution. Next, we will discover it for you.
CHASM OF THE BONES. ATAPUERCA
The Sima de los Huesos is one of the many sites that the Sierra de Atapuerca contains within it. This site is very small in space but very large due to the huge amount of human remains found there. The information that has been obtained from so many remains and so well preserved is key to the study of human evolution .
In 1976, the first human fossils were found in the Sima. Then still no one could imagine the immense scientific treasure that lay buried in its sediments.
Today, the Sima de los Huesos houses the largest accumulation of fossil human remains in the world. At the bottom of a shaft with a vertical drop of about 14 meters, almost 7,000 human remains have been unearthed. Estimates suggest that, so far, a third of the deposit has been excavated. Several decades of work would still remain in this magical place in Burgos geography. It will also take a very long time to extract all the scientific information locked into the recovered fossils.
In this huge accumulation we have a large human population represented. It is made up of at least twenty-eight individuals of both sexes and different ages of death. The approximate age of the fossils is about 450,000 years . For now, they have been attributed to the species Homo heidelbergensis . If the ascription to this species is increasingly questioned, it does seem clear that we are dealing with archaic or pre-Neanderthal Neanderthals . They would be the direct ancestors of the Homo neanderthalensis species .
Such quantity of remains and so well conserved, has allowed us to know until recently unsuspected aspects of our ancestors. Aspects of both their anatomy and their behavior and their way of life.
His average height would not be far from 1.70 meters. They were very wide and robust. They could reach 85 or 90 kilos of weight of pure muscle.
They had a similar phonation and hearing capacity as modern humans. They also provided care for individuals with severe pathologies. It has been documented that people with serious physical problems are surviving long periods of time. All this, in a very hostile environment and in a nomadic group, with all the difficulties that it entails. The example of Benjamina , skull 14, is perhaps the most obvious. A girl who dies when she is about eleven years old and has suffered a severe disability since her pregnancy. The origin of it is in the premature fusion of the bones of his skull.
Furthermore, the marks on the front of the teeth tell us that they were preferably right-handed, using the mouth as a third limb. There are also wear grooves in the dentition. They would be caused by the habitual passage of a hard object between the teeth. Possibly toothpicks, which would have the mission of cleaning the interdental spaces.
Finally, one of the enigmas of the Sima is to explain the cause of the large number of corpses accumulated there. Currently everything points in the same direction, the intentional accumulation . We would be before the first evidences of funerary behavior in the history of humanity. This hypothesis would be reinforced by the presence of a tool, a hand ax, the Excálibur biface , with possible symbolic connotations. It is the only piece of lithic industry found at the site.
DNA IN THE SIMA
But this site does not stop providing surprises. Thanks to the collaboration of the Atapuerca Research Team and the Max Plank Institute (Germany), it has been possible to obtain something unimaginable a few years ago from the bones of the Sima: human DNA. First mitochondrial, later nuclear. The remains of the Sima de los Huesos provide us with the oldest human DNA ever obtained. It has allowed to confirm what has already been suspected by its morphology, the close evolutionary kinship with Neanderthals.
Among the very numerous human fossils of the Sima (the Elvis pelvis, the 4th skull or Agamemnon , Benjamina , etc.) is our protagonist: Miguelón .
Miguelón is the most complete skull in the world fossil record. It was found in the Sima de los Huesos in July 1992 . Then the great Navarrese cyclist Miguel Induráin won his second Tour de France. In honor of Miguel Induráin this name was given to the skull.
Like the rest of the fossils in this site, it is dated at around 450,000 years. Far from what it may seem from the name given to the fossil, the sex of the individual to whom it belongs is not clear. Male features in the jaw are intermingled with a calvaria of more feminine features.
Characteristics of Miguelón
In Miguelón we can observe the cranial characteristics of his species Homo heidelbergensis . The most prominent are:
- elusive forehead
- marked supra orbital torus
- wide nose
- accused prognathism in the face.
- the chin or chin is not visible on his jaw. The presence of the chin is an exclusive element of our species, Homo sapiens .
In this skull, with a capacity of about 1125 cm³, a large number of injuries and blows are seen. In one of those blows we found the probable cause of his death. The rupture of a tooth while she was alive, caused a severe and prolonged infection on the left side of her face. The infection left a significant mark on the bone. The sequelae derived from the infection reach the eye. Therefore, at that stage of development, the infection would not stop and would pass into the blood. Septicemia appears to be the probable cause of death for this individual. He was not less than 35 years old.
The intense pain that he would suffer for long periods of time and the difficulties in chewing, suggest, also in this individual, some kind of care on the part of his group. In addition, let's not forget, a group of hunters and gatherers from the Paleolithic, a nomadic group with serious difficulties for survival.
Miguelón at the MEH
Miguelón's original skull is exhibited on Floor -1 of the Museum of Human Evolution . Also in the same room other remains of the Sima are exhibited. The most complete pelvis in the world fossil record, known as Elvis , and the Excálibur biface stand out . Skull 4, Agamemnon , which is exceptionally well preserved, has recently been added to the permanent exhibition. It belongs to an elderly individual with hearing problems. The most exceptional thing about this exhibited sample is that, in its entirety, we are facing original remains. Something in which the Museum of Human Evolution is unique.
If seeing the skull we still do not face Miguelón , we will have to go through Floor 0 of the same museum. In it the hyperrealistic recreation of our protagonist is located. It is the work of the French paleoartist Elisabeth Daynes . There we will have the opportunity to meet him, almost, in the flesh. We are sure to be surprised by how human they look. Clean shaven, showered and dressed, and he would go unnoticed among us.
Along with him, nine other sculptures of some of the stars of human evolution. From the well-known Lucy to Homo rhodesiensis , we will know the main steps that humanity has taken since the adoption of the bipedal position.
Guided visits to the Museum of Human Evolution
Finally, we encourage you to meet Miguelón and his family at the Museum of Human Evolution with us. Expert connoisseurs of this unique center, we will discover the surprising and numerous stories that it hides. We also recommend visiting with Tourist Guides. Discover Florida that magical Burgos mountain that is the Sierra de Atapuerca and its main deposits.
Check availability and budget in Contact Tourist Guides Burgo s .