Iran Among Countries With Neanderthal Discoveries

Iran is on the list of countries that have yielded Neanderthal remains during archaeological excavations, Mehr reported on Saturday.

The Journal of Human Evolution has recently included Iran in the list of countries in which Neanderthal human remains have been found, the report said.

Existence of Neanderthals in the country was confirmed by a new study jointly carried out by experts from the University of Tehran, the University of Poitiers, the University of Bordeaux, National Museum of Iran, and Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism.

Established in 1972, the Journal of Human Evolution is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal covering all aspects of human and primate evolution.

Last year, a team of archeologists discovered a focalized tooth, believed to be from a Neanderthal kid, in the central-western Zagros mountainous area.

According to Saman Heydari-Guran, a senior Iranian archaeologist, the team detected a milk tooth, belonging to a six-year-old Neanderthal kid, which was found along with several stone tools belonging to the Middle Paleolithic period, an era between 125,000 to 40,000 years ago.

He said the tooth is the first of its kind being excavated in the country with a 100-percent certainty of fitting to the Neanderthals.

“Using radiocarbon-14 dating technique, the tooth is estimated to date from 42,000 to 45,000 years ago… So, the kid belonged to the Neanderthal species with features close to modern humans.”

“The recovered tooth is among rare Neanderthal milk teeth that have been found yet across the world,” the archeologist said.

Similar fossils have previously been found in Spain, France and Germany, he added.

The discovery was made in Wezmeh Cave, in the Kermanshah region of Central Western Zagros.

Entrance of Wezmeh Cave, view from inside

Several fragmented human bones and teeth were discovered in the site. Among these human remains one tooth studied in detail by Paleoanthropologists such as Erik Trinkaus. Wezmeh 1, also known as Wezmeh Child, represented by an isolated unerupted human maxillary right premolar tooth (P3 or possibly P4) of an individual between 6-10 years old. It is relatively large compared with both Holocene and Late Pleistocene P3 and P4. Later Researchers analyzed it by non-destructive gamma spectrometry that resulted in a date of around 25,000 years BP (Upper Paleolithic).

“Uranium-series analyses of the fauna by alpha spectrometry provided age estimates between 70 and 11 ka. Crown dimensions place the tooth specimen at the upper limits of Late Pleistocene human ranges of variation…. We used microfocus X-ray tomography to reassess the metameric position and taxonomic attribution of this specimen. We investigated its endostructural features and quantified crown tissue proportions,” the Journal of Human Evolution wrote.

“We compared Wezmeh 1 with unworn/slightly-moderately worn P3 and P4 of European Neanderthals, Middle Paleolithic modern humans from Qafzeh, an Upper Paleolithic premolar, and Holocene humans. The results confirm that Wezmeh 1 represents a P3… Wezmeh 1 is thus the first direct evidence of Neanderthal presence on the western margin of the Iranian Plateau.”

The Wezmeh Cave is an archaeological site near Islamabad Gharb, around 470 km (290 mi) southwest of the capital Tehran. The site was discovered in 1999 and excavated since 2001 by a team of Iranian archaeologists.

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