October 18, 2021

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Emiliano Aguirre, discoverer of Atapuerca, dies at 96 |  Science

Emiliano Aguirre, discoverer of Atapuerca, dies at 96 | Science

When the paleontologist from Ferrol (Coronia) Emiliano Aguirre Work began at the Atapuerca deposit in Burgos in 1976, and this enclave was just a promise. His initial work was a precursor to a book essential to understanding human history in an area declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO 21 years ago. Aguirre died on Monday at the age of 96, the Atapuerca Foundation confirmed. Anna Crespo, head of the Department of Natural Sciences at the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences in Spain, recalls that Aguirre was the first director of the Atapuerca project: “I think, strictly speaking, he was a discoverer.”

Paleontologist José Luis Sanz, Spanish celebrity and one of Aguirre’s countless disciples in many scientific disciplines, considers the recently deceased professor to be undoubtedly responsible for “Spain’s entry into the modernity of paleontology”. His tremendous scientific and educational capacity stands out, giving rise to “dozens and dozens of researchers”: “Atapuerca not only discovered, but also initiated research and launched the interdisciplinary structure that made the site a world reference. It is the undisputed father of modern paleontology.”

Aguirre began working on the Sierra de Atapuerca in 1976 and elevated his results to the category of discoveries of world importance until he gained international recognition for this deposit, located 15 kilometers east of the capital of Burgos, as one of the most important objects for human understanding. has evolved.

As early as 1983, Agiri beware That Atapuerca was a unique site and insisted that the excavations should continue due to lack of funds, which led to the temporary closure of the missions planned for that year.

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His work won him the Prince of Asturias Prize for Scientific and Technical Research in 1998, a year before Juan Luis Arsuaga, José María Bermúdez de Castro and Eudald Carbonell took over the management of the Atapuerca Foundation.

Satisfaction did not take him away from the site. Until the last minute, he kept in touch with the project and contributed to an important bibliographic and documentary legacy about the findings in the cave.

More than a million years

In the sediments of the Sierra de Atapuerca, fossil remains and evidence of five different types of hominids were found: Homo S. (not yet determined, 1,300,000 years old), Poof antecedentsr (850,000 years ago), before Neanderthals (500,000 years ago), Neanderthalssis (50,000 years) and sane man.

BA in Philosophy, Natural Sciences and Theology and PhD in Biological Sciences, He carried from the beginning the Burgos quarry As a multidisciplinary and long-term project.

In addition to the Prince of Asturias, in 1998 he was awarded the Castilla y León Prize in Social Sciences and Humanities, and in 1999 he was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit in Action. In 2000 he was appointed a permanent academician of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, and later an honorary member of the College of Biologists of Galicia.

Aguirre association with Atapuerca He was favored by an engineering student who directed his thesis to him and found some teeth in the area. At that moment he knew they were human. In the cut made in the field to create a railway, the paleontologist found more fossils

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The world didn’t just focus on Atapuerca. Between 1955 and 1962 more than twenty deposits containing fossils between 900,000 and 1,200,000 years old were discovered in the province of Granada.

Emiliano de Aguirre was also one of the founders of the Madrid School of Vertebrate Paleontology and in 1985 took up the position of Directorate of the Museum of Natural SciencesIt was created in 1771 by Carlos III on the basis of money donated by Pedro Francisco Davila, born in Guayaquil (Ecuador).

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