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Newly recognized Pleistocene human teeth from Tabun Cave, Israel.

Seven human teeth from Tabun Cave, Israel, curated at the Natural History Museum London since 1955, are of uncertain provenance and identity. They are all from the upper dentition, without duplications, and are characterized by a similar preservation. The Catalogue of Fossil Hominids (1975) suggested that they might have derived from Tabun Layer A (Bronze Age to Recent). However, one of us (AC) noted some distinctive features of these teeth that warranted further study. They are here assigned to a single individual, Tabun BC7. Their morphology and metrics were then compared with the frequency of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene groups from Europe, North Africa and Middle East. A fragment of the right M3 crown of Tabun BC7 was removed for ESR and U-analysis, and it was determined that only samples from Layer B have similar dose values. Using the sediment dose values of layer B, preliminary age estimates of 82 +/- 14 ka (early U-uptake) and 92+/-18 ka (linear uptake) were obtained. U-series disequilibrium determined from other samples attributed to Layer B resulted in a U-uptake history close to linear uptake, giving a very comparable age estimate of 90(+30)(-16) ka. The dose value previously obtained on an enamel fragment from the Tabun C1 dentition is nearly double the value measured for BC7, and tentative age estimates for C1 were in the range of 143+/-37 ka. However, due to uncertainties in the exact provenance of the human fossils, we cannot confirm that C1 is older than the new tooth sampled here, and both C1 and BC7 can be attributed to Layer B on chronological grounds. On the basis of chronology, dental morphology and metrics, the specimen named Tabun BC7 was identified as a probable Neanderthal.[1]


  1. Newly recognized Pleistocene human teeth from Tabun Cave, Israel. Coppa, A., Grün, R., Stringer, C., Eggins, S., Vargiu, R. J. Hum. Evol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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