Notes: At the time this story was reported, this was the oldest known DNA belonging to human ancestors. According to the Smithsonian, the bones discovered in the Sima de los Huesos (Pit of Bones) cave in Spain belong to homo heidelbergensis, a very ancient ancestor of the Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans. However, a June 2014 story in the National Geographic describes them as early Neanderthals, reflecting a difference of opinion between the experts.
The Pit of Bones itself is an underground depression located at the end of a 1,640-foot-long cave about 46 feet below the surface. According to the Smithsonian, "a single stone handaxe was the only tool found in the pit, made of a type of stone unknown in the vicinity," along with the bones of cave bears thought to have fallen into the pit by accident while looking for a place to hibernate.
See story below about the recent discovery of the oldest known modern human DNA.