The caves that prove Neanderthals were cannibals

From The caves that prove Neanderthals were cannibals.

Deep in the caves of Goyet in Belgium researchers have found the grisly evidence that the Neanderthals did not just feast on horses or reindeer, but also on each other.

Human bones from a newborn, a child and four adults or teenagers who lived around 40,000 years ago show clear signs of cutting and of fractures to extract the marrow within, they say.

“It is irrefutable, cannibalism was practised here,” says Belgian archaeologist Christian Casseyas as he looks inside a cave halfway up a valley in this site in the Ardennes forest.

The bones in Goyet date from when Neanderthals were nearing the end of their time on earth before being replaced by Homo sapiens, with whom they also interbred. [continue]

Jersey was a must-see tourist destination for Neanderthals for over 100,000 years

From Science Daily: Jersey was a must-see tourist destination for Neanderthals for over 100,000 years.

New research led by the University of Southampton shows Neanderthals kept coming back to a coastal cave site in Jersey from at least 180,000 years ago until around 40,000 years ago.

Wow. Now there’s a place I’d love to visit.

As part of a re-examination of La Cotte de St Brelade and its surrounding landscape, archaeologists from Southampton, together with experts from three other universities and the British Museum, have taken a fresh look at artefacts and mammoth bones originally excavated from within the site’s granite cliffs in the 1970s. Their findings are published in the journal Antiquity.

The researchers matched types of stone raw material used to make tools to detailed mapping of the geology of the sea bed, and studied in detail how they were made, carried and modified. This helped reconstruct a picture of what resources were available to Neanderthals over tens of thousands of years — and where they were travelling from. [continue] has some photos on their: La Cotte de St.Brelade page, and Wikipedia’s La Cotte de St.Brelade page has more info and photos.

Up for a video? Youtube has the Natural Hisory Musuem’s Neanderthal hunters and the mammoths of La Cotte de St Brelade, which is less than 5 minutes long.

Ancient human with close Neanderthal ancestor found in Romania

From the CBC: Ancient human with close Neanderthal ancestor found in Romania.

You may not know it, but you probably have some Neanderthal in you. For people around the world, except sub-Saharan Africans, about 1 to 3 per cent of their DNA comes from Neanderthals, our close cousins who disappeared roughly 39,000 years ago.

Scientists said on Monday a jawbone unearthed in Romania, of a man who lived about 40,000 years ago, boasts the most Neanderthal ancestry ever seen in a member of our species.

The finding also indicates that interbreeding with Neanderthals occurred much more recently than previously known. [continue]


The photo published with the article is pretty cool, btw.

Were Neanderthals stoned to death by modern humans?

From Were Neanderthals stoned to death by modern humans?.

Human aerial bombardments might have pushed Neanderthals to extinction, suggests new research. Changes in bone shape left by a life of overhand throwing hint that Stone Age humans regularly threw heavy objects, such as stones or spears, while Neanderthals did not.

"The anatomically modern humans would have this more effective and efficient form of hunting," says Jill Rhodes, a biological anthropologist at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, who led the new study. A warmer Europe would have opened up forests, enabling longer range hunting, she says.

Rhodes and a colleague studied changes to the arm bone that connects the shoulder to the elbow – the humerus – to determine when humans may have begun using projectile weapons. [continue].

Why did Neanderthals have such big noses?

From New Scientist: Why did Neanderthals have such big noses?.

The Neanderthal’s huge nose is a fluke of evolution, not some grand adaptation, research suggests.

The Neanderthal nose has been a matter of befuddlement for anthropologists, who point out that modern cold-adapted humans have narrow noses to moisten and warm air as it enters the lung, and reduce water and heat loss during exhalation.

Big noses tend to be found in people whose ancestors evolved in tropical climates, where a large nasal opening helps cool the body.

But Neanderthals go against this trend, says Tim Weaver, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the study.

"They were living in the glacial environment of Europe, colder than it is today, for most of the time," he says. "So it’s sort of been an anomaly. Why do they have these wide nasal apertures?" [continue]

Neanderthals had a taste for seafood

From The Guardian: Neanderthals had a taste for seafood.

The last of the Neanderthals feasted on warmed mussels, baby seals and washed-up dolphins, according to fossil hunters working in ancient seaside caves in Gibraltar.

Excavations in the giant Gorham’s and Vanguard caves on the Rock’s eastern flank unearthed flint stone tools and remnants of seafood meals alongside the long-dead embers of hearths, which have been carbon-dated to around 28,000 years ago.

The findings suggest that Neanderthals who lived in the caves exploited the plentiful resources that the Mediterranean shoreline provided, and may help explain why groups living in Gibraltar clung on to life while those elsewhere became extinct around 7,000 years earlier. [continue]

DNA-Based Neanderthal Face Unveiled

From National Geographic: DNA-Based Neanderthal Face Unveiled.

Meet Wilma — named for the redheaded Flintstones character — the first model of a Neanderthal based in part on ancient DNA evidence.

Artists and scientists created Wilma (shown in a photo released yesterday) using analysis of DNA from 43,000-year-old bones that had been cannibalized. Announced in October 2007, the findings had suggested that at least some Neanderthals would have had red hair, pale skin, and possibly freckles. [continue, see photo]

Neanderthal brains grew like ours

From Live Science: Neanderthal Brains Grew Like Ours.

Score one more for Neanderthals.

A new study has found that Neanderthal brains grew at much the same rate as modern human brains do, knocking down the idea that they grew faster in a style considered more primitive.

The recent discoveries of two very young Neanderthal skeletons, as well analysis of a little-studied infant Neanderthal skeleton, allowed the researchers to trace how quickly the species’ skulls grew.

The results showed a greater similarity than expected between modern humans and Neanderthals, a hominid species that lived in Europe and Asia between 130,000 and 30,000 years ago. [continue]

Neanderthals: not stupid, just different

From The Guardian: Neanderthals: not stupid, just different.

The established view of Neanderthals as backward, primitive, ape-like creatures is challenged today by new research showing they used stone tools as successfully as early humans.

A team from the University of Exeter, Southern Methodist University, Texas State University and the Think Tank Corporation spent three years producing stone tools to compare their use.

Their work suggests the tools Neanderthals used were just as efficient, if not more so, than those developed by Homo sapiens. [continue]

Britain’s last Neanderthals were more sophisticated than we thought

From Physorg: Britain’s last Neanderthals were more sophisticated than we thought.

An archaeological excavation at a site near Pulborough, West Sussex, has thrown remarkable new light on the life of northern Europe’s last Neanderthals. It provides a snapshot of a thriving, developing population – rather than communities on the verge of extinction.

"The tools we’ve found at the site are technologically advanced and potentially older than tools in Britain belonging to our own species, Homo sapiens," says Dr Matthew Pope of Archaeology South East based at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. "It’s exciting to think that there’s a real possibility these were left by some of the last Neanderthal hunting groups to occupy northern Europe. The impression they give is of a population in complete command of both landscape and natural raw materials with a flourishing technology — not a people on the edge of extinction." [continue]

Neanderthals stitched too little too late

From Neanderthals Stitched Too Little Too Late.

Neanderthals probably froze to death in the last ice age because rapid climate change caught them by surprise without the tools needed to make warm clothes, finds new research.

Ian Gilligan, a postgraduate researcher from the Australian National University argues his case in the current issue of the journal World Archaeology. By the time some Neanderthals developed sewing tools it was too little too late, said Gilligan. [continue]

Lake sediment used to trace climate history

From Science Daily: Turkey’s Lake Van Provides Precise Insights Into Eurasia’s Climate History.

The bottom of Turkey’s Lake Van is covered by a layer of mud several hundreds of metres deep. For climatologists this unprepossessing slime is worth its weight in gold: summer by summer pollen has been deposited from times long past. From it they can detect right down to a specific year what climatic conditions prevailed at the time of the Neanderthals, for example. These archives may go back as much as half a million years. [continue]