Herodotus Returns


Neanderthals died out 37,000 years ago
January 29, 2010, 11:53 am
Filed under: Neanderthals | Tags:

João Zilhão, the archaeologist who two weeks ago found painted sea shells at a Neanderthal site in France has published a paper regarding the end point of the Neanderthal people.

Professor Zilhao and colleagues now report new dating evidence for the Late Aurignacian of Portugal, an archaeological culture unquestionably associated with modern humans, that firmly constrains the age of the last Neanderthals of southern and western Iberia to no younger than some 37,000 years ago.

This new evidence therefore puts at five millennia the duration of the Iberian Neanderthal refugium, and counters speculations that Neanderthal populations could have remained in the Gibraltar area until 28,000 years ago.

These findings have important implications for the understanding of the archaic features found in the anatomy of a 30,000 year old child unearthed at Lagar Velho, Portugal. With the last of the Iberian Neanderthals dating to many millennia before the child was born, ‘freak’ crossbreeding between immediate ancestors drawn from distinct ‘modern’ and ‘Neanderthal’ gene pools cannot be a viable explanation. The skeleton’s archaic features must therefore represent evolutionarily significant admixture at the time of contact, as suggested by the team who excavated and studied the fossil.

More on Joao Zilhao’s paper.

Also, check out these other articles on Neanderthals:

Neanderthal teeth discovered in Poland

DNA analysis of 30,000-year-old hunter-gatherer

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