Neanderthal 1

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Kleine Feldhofer Grotte (Neandertal)
51.22, 6.94
Homo, Homo neanderthalensis
Homo neanderthalensis (cast of Neanderthal 1 skullcap) at Göteborgs Naturhistoriska Museum 8790

Homo neanderthalensis (cast of Neanderthal 1 skullcap) at Göteborgs Naturhistoriska Museum 8790

Feldhofer 1 or Neanderthal 1 is the scientific name of the 40,000-year-old type specimen fossil of the species Homo neanderthalensis, found in August 1856 in a German cave, the Kleine Feldhofer Grotte in the Neandertal valley, 13 km (8.1 mi) east of Düsseldorf. In 1864 the fossil's description was first published in a scientific magazine and officially named.

However, the find was not the first Neanderthal fossil discovery. Other Neanderthal fossils had been discovered earlier, but their true nature and significance had not been recognized, and therefore no separate species' name was assigned.

The discovery was made by limestone quarry miners. Neanderthal 1 consists of a skullcap, two femora, the three right arm bones, two of the left arm bones, ilium, and fragments of a scapula and ribs. The fossils were given to Johann Carl Fuhlrott, a local teacher and amateur naturalist. The first description of the remains was made by anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen and the find was announced jointly in 1857.

In 1997, the specimen was the first to yield Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA fragments.

In 1999, scientists announced that recent excavations had led them to some of the sediments of the now-destroyed cave which contained fragments of Neanderthal bones including one that fit exactly to the original femur.

In 2000, the fossil of a second individual from the locality, named Neanderthal 2, was identified as a Homo neanderthalensis.

The Neanderthal 1 publication represents the beginning of paleoanthropology as a scientific discipline. The fossil has been preserved in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn since 1877. As well as the unique historical and scientific importance of this specimen it has continued to play a key role since its discovery.