A fossil of what may be the first extant archaic human in Europe was uncovered in Spain's Atapuerca Mountains. The discovery is believed to be connected to a jawbone fragment discovered in 2007 at the same location, just a few meters away but not yet identified, that dates back 1.2 million years. It is unquestionably older than the Pioneer Man's bones, which were discovered in a neighboring cave in Atapuerca in 1997 and are thought to be 850,000 years old.
According to experts, the recently discovered facial bone, coupled with previously discovered jaw bones, reflects the face of the earliest known Europeans, who most likely migrated to Europe 1.4 million years ago from Africa at a time when the Earth was substantially different. The original human species was considered to have emerged in Europe barely 45,000 years ago, making this revelation revolutionary. Two face bones dating to 1.4 million years ago were found at the same location, indicating that Europe has undergone another million years of development that we are unaware of.
Paleontologist Juan Luis Arsuaga who is also one of the three co-directors of the prehistoric site of Atapuerca mentioned that these fossils could force humanity to rewrite the books on human evolution.
"force us to rewrite the books on human evolution" as they "push back the human presence in Europe and show us that things we thought appeared at the end of evolution(such as the modern face) arose at the beginning." (Quote by Juan Luis Arsuaga)
Additionally, he said that the discovery of the facial bones was "a scientific marvel" because typically, only fragments of ancient hominids' skulls are discovered, not their faces.