Neandertal dredged from North Sea

The Netherlands National Museum of Antiquities is starting an exhibit of a Neandertal frontal bone dredged from the bottom of the North Sea. The Dutch language press is all over it, but so far little in English. Thanks to PalArch.nl for posting an English language version of the story:

For the first time ever, a fossil of a Neanderthal has been discovered in the Netherlands. The skull fragment, over 40,000 years old, with its characteristically thick Neanderthal eyebrow ridge, was found off the coast of Zeeland, dredged up from the bottom of the North Sea. Huge quantities of fossil bones have been brought to the surface from this seabed since 1874, however, this is the first time a Neanderthal fossil has been found. The unique discovery was officially unveiled on the 15th of June by Ronald Plasterk (Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science) at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden, where it is on display to the public starting from June 16th.

It’s a piece of a frontal, including the lateral part of a browridge. The article describes some of the analysis that has been conducted, including participation from the Max-Planck Institute in Leipzig, and will be reported in JHE “soon”.

This gives “Doggerland” a new meaning, I’d say. It does make you wonder how many bones may have been dredged into polders over the centuries.

UPDATE (2015-01-27): This specimen was published in 2009, and is known as the “Zeeland Ridges Neandertal” (Hublin et al. 2009). It is anatomically fairly comparable to the frontal of the Krapina 3 Neandertal skull, and has an interesting pathology that has been identified as an epidermoid cyst invading the diploë of the frontal.

Reference

Hublin, J. J., Weston, D., Gunz, P., Richards, M., Roebroeks, W., Glimmerveen, J., & Anthonis, L. (2009). Out of the North Sea: the Zeeland Ridges Neandertal. Journal of human evolution, 57(6), 777-785.