Neanderthals ‘overlapped’ with modern humans for up to 5,400 years

After Big Bang

Neanderthals and modern humans were both living in Europe for between 2,600 and 5,400 years, according to a new article. For the first time, scientists have constructed a robust timeline showing when the last Neanderthals died out.

Skull of Homo neanderthalensis  Credit: © Creativemarc Skull of Homo neanderthalensis
Credit: © Creativemarc

Significantly, the research paper says there is strong evidence to suggest that Neanderthals disappeared at different times across Europe rather than being rapidly replaced by modern humans.

A team, led by Professor Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford, obtained new radiocarbon dates for around 200 samples of bone, charcoal and shell from 40 key European archaeological sites. The sites, ranging from Russia in the east to Spain in the west, were either linked with the Neanderthal tool-making industry, known as Mousterian, or were ‘transitional’ sites containing stone tools associated with either early modern humans or Neanderthals.

The chronology was pieced together during a six-year research…

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