Friday, September 02, 2005


Now a group of scientists claim to have proof -- based on radiocarbon dating of artefact finds in France -- that the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens sapiens, two distinct groups, did indeed share the same space at the same time some 38,000 years ago.

"These data strongly support the chronological coexistence -- and therefore potential demographic and cultural interactions -- between the last Neanderthal and the earliest anatomically and behaviourally modern human populations in western Europe," they wrote in the latest edition of the science journal Nature.

The scientists, led by Paul Mellars from Cambridge University, said the layers suggested that not only had the two groups been around at the same time but that they must have shared the same space -- at least for a while.

Radiocarbon dating of some of the bone fragments from the different layers confirmed the observational conclusions.

The scientists suggested that encroaching cold may have made the Aurignacians (the modern Homo sapiens sapiens) move toward the warmer coast from central Europe and at the same time encouraged the Neanderthals to move even further south where it would have been even warmer.

When the weather warmed again in later generations the population flow was reversed -- suggesting that the ancestors of modern man may have been better equipped to deal with colder climates than the last groups of Neanderthals, they said.

As you probably know, there is no evidence past 31,000 years ago that Neanderthal people survived. And that only was in the far reaches of the European continent in Spain. So, what happened? Neanderthals died out, as far as we know.

Full story at


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