In a cave called ‘Pit of the Bones’ in Spain’s Atapuerca mountains, 17 primitive Neanderthal skulls have been found that suggest early humans underwent a Game of Thrones-like evolution, full of turbulence and conflict.
Notwithstanding the bleakness of its name, Sima de los Huesos (translates as 'Pit of the Bones') has been a boon for scientists have digging in its depths for the past four decades. And what they've uncovered there in the darkness could alter the way we think about how human evolution took shape over the past million years.
The cave’s prize find is an astonishing collection of 17 fossil skulls dating from about 430,000 years ago that belonged to an extinct human species closely related to the Neanderthals — scientifically known as Homo neanderthalensis.
Reassembled from jumbled fragments found in a small chamber deep within the cave, the skulls represent the oldest known fossils to show clear Neanderthal features, without being actual Neanderthals.