The oldest teeth come from a more than 500,000-year-old chamber known as Sima de los Huesos near Burgos, Spain, containing the remains of humans believed to be ancestors of European Neandertals. Other teeth studied by Frayer come from later Neandertal populations in Europe.
“These marks were produced when a stone tool was accidentally dragged across the labial face in an activity performed at the front of the mouth,” said Frayer. “The heavy scoring on some of the teeth indicates the marks were produced over the lifetime of the individual and are not the result of a single cutting episode.”
Overall, Frayer and his co-authors found right-handedness in 93.1 percent of individuals sampled from the Sima de los Huesos and European Neandertal sites.
Story: Brendan M. Lunch, University of Kansas | Photo: University of Kansas, Department of Anthropology