Oldest Neanderthal remains in Central Europe discovered in Poland

The remains of Neandertals which were discovered in Poland are the oldest in Central Europe, the latest study results published in the recent issue of Scientific Reports magazine shows.

In 2008, an unusual discovery was made in Stajnia Cave in the Silesia region, where tools and remains of Neanderthals were found. These were the first such findings in Poland. A few years later, more were discovered in Ciemna Cave, Małopolskie province.

The remains from Stajnia Cave were originally dated to approx. 52,000 - 42,000 years ago. But recent studies show that they were much older.

Scientists carried out genetic analysis of a Neanderthal molar, including mitochondrial DNA. It shows that the Neanderthals from Stajnia Cave were more closely related to the North Caucasus population than to the population from Western Europe (compared to DNA from Scladina Cave in Belgium and Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave in Germany). According to scientists, this is evidence of the mobility of Neandertals.

DNA research also brought in a new dating of one of the molars. It turned out to be older than any other Neanderthal remains from Central Europe. Its age is now estimated at approx. 80,000 - 116,000 years.

The research was conducted by scientists from an international team, including Polish the centres: the University of Wrocław, the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Geological Institute.