In Asia’s northern hinterlands not far from the Arctic Circle, Stone Age toolmakers left an evolutionary calling card that’s hard to read.
Artifacts found in this desolate region imply that the toolmakers adapted to frigid temperatures and dark winters, says a team led by archaeologist Ludovic Slimak of the University of Toulouse, France. Around that time, modern human groups in Europe and southwestern Asia underwent pivotal cultural changes. Some groups even reached Arctic spots near the new finds and left behind artifacts associated with that human cultural transition.
The new Arctic discoveries present a much tougher call. The stone implements -- manufactured between 34,000 and 31,000 years ago at Byzovaya, a site in Russia’s Ural Mountains -- resemble scraping and cutting tools associated with 130,000- to 30,000-year-old European Neandertals, Slimak and his colleagues report in the May 13 Science. To complicate matters, groups of Homo sapiens that lived in northern Africa and southwestern Asia between 200,000 and 45,000 years ago made tools like those of Neandertals.
Read the rest of this article...