Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Neanderthal extinction earlier than thought

Neanderthals may have become extinct in Europe some ten thousand years earlier than scientists currently think, a new radiocarbon dating study suggests.
Over the past 20 years, it has become widely accepted that the Iberian peninsula - modern day Spain and Portugal - served as a kind of refuge for the last remaining Neanderthals, who survived there five or ten thousand years longer than they did elsewhere in Europe.
Much of the evidence for this hypothesis came from radiocarbon dating of material found in caves associated with Neanderthal fossils or the particular kinds of stone tools, known to archaeologists as Mousterian, which are closely associated with the species.
North of the Ebro valley which crosses northern Spain, scientists previously found that evidence of Neanderthals disappeared around 42,000 years ago when anatomically modern humans arrived. South of that valley, it appeared, Neanderthals survived until 36,000 years ago with little evidence of modern humans.

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