Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Heidelberg Man's Old Stomping Grounds


This alley in the old town of Heidelberg, Germany, looks like a quiet, unassuming place where nothing much going on. OK, maybe that's true now. But between 400,000 and 500,000 years ago, a Neanderthal called Homo heidelbergensis, also known as "Heidelberg Man", roamed this region.

Heidelberg Man came to light in October 1907, when a worker digging a hole found a piece of fossilized jawbone in the dirt, which was later confirmed to be that of Homo heidelbergensis. That remained his name for several years, until one night, the ghost of Homo heidelbergensis visited a professor at Heidelberg University and begged him to petition for a name change.

These days, Heidelberg Man keeps a low profile. You might see him darting furtively between buildings at night, but he's had his time in the spotlight, and prefers to avoid it.

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