Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

Neanderthals and humans lived side by side: Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar (September 2006)

Neanderthals were thought to have died out as modern humans arrived in Europe. Now, artifacts found in Gorham's cave in Gibraltar reveal that the two groups coexisted for millenia before Neanderthals finally dwindled out of existence.

Homo sapiens moved into Europe about 32,000 years ago. But the newly unearthered artefacts shows that a remnant population of Homo neanderthalensis clung on until at least 28,000 years ago, a significant overlap.

Clive Finlayson at the Gibraltar Museum, and colleagues, recovered 240 stone tools and artefacts from sediments dated to the Upper Paleolithic period – between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago. Mass spectrometry dating puts them between 28,000 and 24,000 years old.

The exciting point is that the tools are all of a type known to palaeontologists as Mousterian: they are flints, cherts and quartzites exclusively associated with Neanderthal manufacture. [Neandertal, Neandertals]
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The above New Scientist report has been used in preference to that of the journal Nature (which is here) because quite often Nature's open access content is subsequently moved to subsciption only. All reports (and Google currently list 170) are based on two Nature papers:

"A new radiocarbon revolution and the dispersal of modern humans in Eurasia" (Abstract)

"Late survival of Neanderthals at the southernmost extreme of Europe" (Abstract)

Other news reports include:

The Washington Post's "Study Finds Neanderthals Survived Longer" and BBC News UK's Neanderthals' 'last rock refuge'

Also see The Gibraltar Neanderthal Man: "The Gibraltar Neanderthal Skull was found 8 years before the one at Neander Valley, near Dusseldorf."

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