Remains of nine Neanderthal’s up to 100,000 years old have been discovered in a cave near Rome by archaeologists.
The discoveries were made near the Tyrrhenian Sea’s coast at the Guattari Cave.
Skulls, skull fragments, two teeth, and a bone fragment are among the remains found.
Archaeologists also discovered animal bones, including those of an aurochs, an extinct bovine.
The oldest remains date from 100,000 to 90,000 years ago, while the other eight Neanderthals are thought to have lived between 50,000 and 68,000 years ago, according to the Culture Ministry.
‘They are all adults, with the exception of one who may have been in his early teens,’ Francesco Di Mario, the head of the Grotta Guattari excavation said.
The excavations, which began in 2019, focused on a previously unexplored section of the cave, including a lake discovered by anthropologist Alberto Carlo Blanc, who is also credited with the 1939 discovery of a Neanderthal skull.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini called the finding ‘an extraordinary discovery that will be the talk of the world’.
Anthropologist Mauro Rubini said the large number of remains suggest a significant population of Neanderthals, ‘the first human society of which we can speak’.
Archaeologists said the cave had perfectly preserved the environment of 50,000 years ago.
An ancient landslide had sealed the cave, storing everything inside as a time capsule slowly revealing its secrets.
The aurochs, a massive extinct bovine, an elephant, rhinoceros, and giant deer were among the fossilized animal remains discovered.
Many of the bones found show clear signs of gnawing,’ the ministry statement said.
Neanderthals, the closest ancient relatives of humans, died out about 40,000 years ago.
It is unclear what killed them off, although theories include an inability to adapt to climate change and increased competition from modern humans.