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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020 / New Neandertal fossils from Trou Magrite, Belgium, and their contribution to our understanding of Neandertal diversity

Hélène Rougier, Isabelle Crevecoeur, Cosimo Posth, Hervé Bocherens, Pauline Colombet, Damien Flas, Johannes Krause, Patrick Semal and Christoph Wissing (2020)

New Neandertal fossils from Trou Magrite, Belgium, and their contribution to our understanding of Neandertal diversity

American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 171(S69):240.

Belgium has yielded an exceptional Neandertal fossil record that has played a major role in Neandertal studies since the 19th century. Here we present the outcome of a new multidisciplinary project that aimed at re-assessing the skeletal collections from the Belgian site of Trou Magrite. This site yielded rich archeological assemblages spanning from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Iron Age. We revised the already known human collection, conducted a systematic sorting of the faunal material, and combined the use of morphometrics, taphonomy, stable isotopes, dating, and genetic analyses to perform taxonomic and chronocultural identifications. This resulted in the identification of two new Neandertal fossils among the faunal material excavated in the 19th century: an upper right permanent canine representing an adult individual, and the left femur diaphysis of a ca. 8-10-month-old infant. We will present the biological characteristics and mitochondrial DNA phylogenetic position of the Trou Magrite Neandertals, in particular with regard to the other Northern European Neandertals. Our project adds a ninth site to the list of Belgian sites that have yielded Neandertal fossils, and emphasizes the existence of a low genetic diversity among Late Neandertals, which is to be compared to their significant behavioral (mortuary and technical) variability. As such, Belgian Neandertals continue to contribute significantly to our understanding of the population processes that resulted in the disappearance of this group. This research was funded by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences of CSUN and the CSUN Competition for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Awards.
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