Sidrón Cave

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Sidrón Cave
Cueva del Sidrón
Sidrón Cave in Spain
Sidrón Cave in Spain
Location in Spain
Sidrón Cave in Spain
Sidrón Cave in Spain
Location in Spain
Location Piloña municipality
Region Asturias
Coordinates 43°23′10″N 5°19′42″W / 43.38611°N 5.32833°W / 43.38611; -5.32833Coordinates: 43°23′10″N 5°19′42″W / 43.38611°N 5.32833°W / 43.38611; -5.32833
Type karst
Periods Paleolithic
Associated with Neanderthals
Site notes
Public access no

The Sidrón Cave (Spanish: Cueva del Sidrón) is a non-carboniferous limestone karst cave system located in the Piloña municipality of Asturias, northwestern Spain, where Paleolithic rock art and the fossils of more than a dozen Neanderthals were found. The total length of this huge complex is approximately 3,700 m (12,100 ft), which contains a central hall of 200 m (660 ft) length and the Neanderthal fossil site, called the Ossuary Gallery, which is 28 m (92 ft) long and 12 m (39 ft) wide.[1] Declared a "Partial Natural Reserve" in 1995, the site serves as a retreat for five species of bats and is the place of discovery of two species of Coleoptera (beetles).[2]


Galería del Osario[edit]

The human remains were found accidentally in 1994, all within a single layer (Stratum III). The age of these remains of three men, three adolescent boys, three women, and three infants has been estimated to about 49,000 years. The fact that the bones are excellently preserved with very limited erosion and no large carnivore tooth marks and the unusual deposition of the bones, mixed into a jumble of gravel and mud, suggests that these Neanderthals did not die in this spot but an exterior location.[3] A number of scenarios of how these "members of an extended family" might have ended up in a 6 m2 (65 sq ft) room-sized space, dubbed the Tunnel of Bones included flooding, cave collapse, and disposal by cannibals. Projection exists that they were dropped into the cave in a single event via a collapse of nearby fissures above the site or, by influx of storm water.[4][5]

The associated assemblage consisted of 53 stone tools, nonhuman bones are very scarce. The only other species present of similar size is Red deer (Cervus elaphus), very few small mammals and gastropods.[6]


Lab number Material Normalized Age Stratum
OxA-21776 bone 48400 ± 3200 Galeria del Osario III
Beta-192065 tooth SID-19 40840 ± 1200 Galeria del Osario III
GifA-99704 Hominid bone SID-00B 49200 ± 2500 Galeria del Osario III
Beta-192066 Hominid bone SID-20 37300 ± 830 Galeria del Osario III

Source: [7]


Sidron mandible

Morphologically, the El Sidrón humans show a large number of Neanderthal lineage-derived features even though certain traits place the sample at the limits of Neanderthal variation. Integrating the El Sidrón human mandibles into the larger Neanderthal sample reveals a north–south geographic patterning. The cave is in the northern portion, southern Neanderthals show broader faces with increased lower facial heights.[8]


Ancient Neanderthal mtDNA was partially sequenced in HVR region for three distinct Neanderthals from El Sidrón cave (441, 1253, and 1351c).[9][10] Researchers also sequenced the partial nuclear genomes from several individuals from the cave.[11] 1253 and 1351c have the same mutations at position A-911, G-977 in exon 7 of FOXP2 gene, known as the "language gene", as found in present-day humans.[12]

In 2017, researchers successfully sequenced DNA from soil samples taken from Stratum III at El Sidrón. They were able to identify Neanderthal mtDNA sequences; the results suggested that the sequenced mtDNA belonged to more than one individual. [13]

Neanderthal Y chromosome[edit]

The first sequencing of the Neanderthal Y chromosome was successfully completed from a specimen from Sidrón Cave.[14] Based on this sample, researchers estimate that Neanderthals diverged from the common human ancestor around 590,000 years ago.[14] The Sidrón Cave Y chromosome has never been identified before and is not found in modern humans.[14] The Sidrón Cave Y chromosome coded for several minor histocompatibility antigen genes that differ from that of modern humans.[14]


Recent research investigating the Neanderthals remains recovered from El Sidrón have provided evidence that their diet would have consisted primarily of pine nuts, moss and mushrooms. This is contrasted by evidence from other European locations which point to a more carnivorous diet.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "El Sidrón Site - Biology Online". Biology Online. 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  2. ^ "Traces of the first inhabitants of Asturias have been found in this Partial Nature Reserve.". turismoasturias es. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Bones at El Sidrón Give Glimpse Into Life of Neanderthals". The New York Times. 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  4. ^ "Scientists provide a more accurate age for the El Sidrón cave Neanderthals --". ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ "El Sidron - Evidence for Neanderthal Cannibalism". Archaeology about com. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Paleobiology and comparative morphology of a late Neandertal sample from El Sidrón, Asturias, Spain". Pnas org. 103 (51): 19266–19271. doi:10.1073/pnas.0609662104. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Samples". Canadian archaeology ca. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  8. ^ Estalrrich, Almudena; Rosas, Antonio (2013). "Handedness in Neandertals from the El Sidrón (Asturias, Spain): Evidence from Instrumental Striations with Ontogenetic Inferences". PLoS ONE. 8 (5): e62797. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062797. PMC 3646041Freely accessible. PMID 23671635. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Neandertals have the same mutations in FOXP2, the language gene, as modern humans &laquo". Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  10. ^ Lalueza-Fox; et al. (January 2005). "Neandertal Evolutionary Genetics: Mitochondrial DNA Data from the Iberian Peninsula". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 22 (4): 1077–1081. doi:10.1093/molbev/msi094. 
  11. ^ Lalueza-Fox, Carles; Rosas, Antonio; Rasilla, Marco de la (2012). "Palaeogenetic research at the El Sidrón Neanderthal site". Annals of Anatomy - Anatomischer Anzeiger. 194 (1): 133–137. doi:10.1016/j.aanat.2011.01.014. ISSN 0940-9602. 
  12. ^ Krause et al., "The Derived FOXP2 Variant of Modern Humans Was Shared with Neandertals," Current Biology (2007), doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.10.008
  13. ^ Slon, Viviane; Hopfe, Charlotte; Weiß, Clemens L.; Mafessoni, Fabrizio; de la Rasilla, Marco; Lalueza-Fox, Carles; Rosas, Antonio; Soressi, Marie; Knul, Monika V.; Miller, Rebecca; Stewart, John R.; Derevianko, Anatoly P.; Jacobs, Zenobia; Li, Bo; Roberts, Richard G.; Shunkov, Michael V.; de Lumley, Henry; Perrenoud, Christian; Gušić, Ivan; Kućan, Željko; Rudan, Pavao; Aximu-Petri, Ayinuer; Essel, Elena; Nagel, Sarah; Nickel, Birgit; Schmidt, Anna; Prüfer, Kay; Kelso, Janet; Burbano, Hernán A.; Pääbo, Svante; Meyer, Matthias (2017). "Neandertal and Denisovan DNA from Pleistocene sediments". Science: eaam9695. doi:10.1126/science.aam9695. ISSN 0036-8075. 
  14. ^ a b c d Mendez, Fernando L. (April 7, 2016). "The Divergence of Neandertal and Modern Human Y Chromosomes". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 98 (4): 728–734. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2016.02.023. PMC 4833433Freely accessible. PMID 27058445. 

External links[edit]