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article imageWhen did Neanderthals become extinct?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 23, 2014 in Science
By analyzing ancient remains across Europe, a team led by investigators have pinpointed the timing the Neanderthals’ extinction to between 39,000 and 41,000 years ago.
Neanderthals overlapped with early modern humans and, based on genetic evidence, interbred with them. However, the extent of the overlap of the two in terms of time and geography is still not fully known. New research has highlighted a shorter time frame for the potential interaction of humans with Neanderthals than other studies have shown. Many scientists think that there was a coexistence of Neanderthals and early modern humans in Europe between about 30,000 to 40,000 years, possibly extending to even more recently. The new research appears to contradict this.
To reach their conclusion, The Scientist reports that the researchers dated almost 200 Neanderthal bone, charcoal, and tool specimens from 40 archaeological sites across Europe. The samples analyzed included Neanderthal bones as well as tools and other artifacts from two European stone tool cultures, the Mousterian and Châtelperronian, associated with Neanderthals.
Although Neanderthals and humans had some physiological differences, these differences were probably not as great as many stereotypes suggest. Biologists have reported on a systematic review of archaeological records of Neanderthals and modern humans. The outcome is that they found little evidence to support the intellectual dominance of humans over Neanderthals.
The new study was undertaken by investigators from the University of Oxford, U.K. The findings have been published in the journal Nature. The study is titled "The timing and spatiotemporal patterning of Neanderthal disappearance."
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