Sima de los Huesos: The Largest Depository of Hominid Fossils Ever Discovered

La Sima de los Huesos (Pit of Bones) is a 12-meter deep vertical shaft which turns into an inclined passage 10 meters in length opening onto a chamber measuring 15 square meters.

It is located 500 meters from the Portalón area of Cueva Mayor. In it, more than 3,500 items of hominid remains have been found, belonging to at least 32 individuals of the Homo heidelbergensis species.

Studies of these numerous remains indicate that Homo heidelbergensis was of a strong constitution, taller than the Neanderthals, with a cranial volume slightly lesser than ours, a marked osseous projection above the eyes, a prominent nose, a robust jawbone and a receding chin. This species worked leather to make clothing and was an efficient hunter and gatherer.

The designation “Homo heidelbergensis” comes from the oldest and first of its fossils to be found (1907), which was a jawbone unearthed in the German municipality of Mauer, in the vicinity of Heidelberg.

ABOVE LEFT:Mixed among the human fossils remains at least 167 bears of the species Ursus deningeri have been found, an ancestor of the cave bears.

ABOVE: The most complete pelvis in the human fossil record has been found in the Sima de los Huesos, nicknamed “Elvis” by its discoverers.

Reconstruction of a Homo Heildelbergensis corpse falling in the Sima de los Huesos pit.