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Neanderthals in the News

Started by Recusant, November 10, 2015, 04:47:35 PM

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Ecurb Noselrub



Very cool! Thank you, Ecurb Noselrub:thumbsup:
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


There must be a story behind this. Anatomically modern humans (AMH) lived at a cave site in southeastern France for about 40 years, then Neanderthals were back for the next few thousand years. One wonders how did the AMH arrive and why did they leave?

Apparently the finding is partly based on analysis of soot in the cave. I haven't read the paper yet, so I don't know how or if they differentiate between soot from a Neanderthal fire and that from an AMH fire.

"New research suggests modern humans lived in Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, in Neanderthal territories" | The Conversation

QuotePerched about 325 feet (100 meters) up the slopes of the Prealps in southern France, a humble rock shelter looks out over the Rhône River Valley. It's a strategic point on the landscape, as here the Rhône flows through a narrows between two mountain ranges. For millennia, inhabitants of the rock shelter would have had commanding views of herds of animals migrating between the Mediterranean region and the plains of northern Europe, today replaced by TGV trains and up to 180,000 vehicles per day on one of the busiest highways on the continent.

The site, recognized in the 1960s and named Grotte Mandrin after French folk hero Louis Mandrin, has been a valued location for over 100,000 years. The stone artifacts and animal bones left behind by ancient hunter-gatherers from the Paleolithic period were quickly covered by the glacial dust that blew from the north on the famous mistral winds, keeping the remains well preserved.

Since 1990, our research team has been carefully investigating the uppermost 10 feet (3 meters) of sediment on the cave floor. Based on artifacts and tooth fossils, we believe that Mandrin rewrites the consensus story about when modern humans first made their way to Europe.

Human origins researchers have generally agreed that between 300,000 and 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals and their ancestors occupied Europe. From time to time during that period, they had contact with modern humans in the Levant and parts of Asia. Then around 48,000 to 45,000 years ago, modern humans – essentially us – expanded throughout the rest of the world, and Neanderthals and all other archaic humans disappeared.

In the journal Science Advances, we describe our discovery of evidence that modern humans lived 54,000 years ago at Mandrin. That's some 10 millennia earlier than our species was previously thought to be in Europe and over a thousand miles west (1,700 kilometers) from the next-oldest known site, in Bulgaria. And fascinatingly, Neanderthals appear to have used the cave both before and after the modern human occupation.

[Continues . . .]

The paper is open access:

"Modern human incursion into Neanderthal territories 54,000 years ago at Mandrin, France" | Science Advances

QuoteDetermining the extent of overlap between modern humans and other hominins in Eurasia, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, is fundamental to understanding the nature of their interactions and what led to the disappearance of archaic hominins. Apart from a possible sporadic pulse recorded in Greece during the Middle Pleistocene, the first settlements of modern humans in Europe have been constrained to ~45,000 to 43,000 years ago.

Here, we report hominin fossils from Grotte Mandrin in France that reveal the earliest known presence of modern humans in Europe between 56,800 and 51,700 years ago. This early modern human incursion in the Rhône Valley is associated with technologies unknown in any industry of that age outside Africa or the Levant. Mandrin documents the first alternating occupation of Neanderthals and modern humans, with a modern human fossil and associated Neronian lithic industry found stratigraphically between layers containing Neanderthal remains associated with Mousterian industries.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


This thread has been quiet for some time, but not for as long as the cave described in the article below . . .

"Neanderthals were the world's first artists" | University of Basel

QuoteWhen the French archaeologist Jean-Claude Marquet entered the La Roche-Cotard cave in the Loire Valley for the first time back in 1974, he suspected that the fine lines on the wall could be of human origin. He also found scrapers and other retouched pieces known as Mousterian stone artifacts that suggested the cave had been used by Neanderthals. Were the marks on the wall evidence of early Neanderthal artistic activity?

Posing this question raised the possibility of breaking with the consensus of the time, which largely assumed that Homo neanderthalensis lacked any higher cognitive abilities. Fearing he would be unable to provide sufficient scientific evidence to prove his hypothesis, Marquet left the cave untouched for almost 40 years.

Together with an international team, he made another attempt in 2016. This time he was accompanied by Dr. Dorota Wojtczak from Integrative Prehistoric and Archaeological Science (IPAS) at the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of Basel, who specializes in archaeological use-wear analysis. "Our task was to use modern methods to prove the human origin of these wall engravings," explains Wojtczak in her office at IPAS. The researchers recently published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

First with photos and drawings and later with a 3D scanner, the marks in the tuff rock of the cave wall were meticulously recorded. In her laboratory in Basel, Wojtczak compared these samples from the cave with tuff she had worked on experimentally with wood, bone and stone tools, as well as with her hands. "This research clearly showed that the cave marks were not made with tools, but by scratching with human fingers," says Wojtczak.

At the same time, examination of cave sediment by researchers from Denmark showed that the cave must have been sealed off by mud residues from the Loire and soil sediments for over 50,000 years before being rediscovered. This makes the La Roche-Cotard cave system a very special location – a veritable "time capsule". "At this time, 50,000 years ago, there were no modern humans in Europe, only Neanderthals," says Wojtczak. The wall marks and artifacts can therefore only come from these early humans.

[Continues . . .]

The paper is open access:

"The earliest unambiguous Neanderthal engravings on cave walls: La Roche-Cotard, Loire Valley, France" | PLOS ONE


Here we report on Neanderthal engravings on a cave wall at La Roche-Cotard (LRC) in central France, made more than 57±3 thousand years ago. Following human occupation, the cave was completely sealed by cold-period sediments, which prevented access until its discovery in the 19th century and first excavation in the early 20th century.

The timing of the closure of the cave is based on 50 optically stimulated luminescence ages derived from sediment collected inside and from around the cave. The anthropogenic origin of the spatially-structured, non-figurative marks found within the cave is confirmed using taphonomic, traceological and experimental evidence.

Cave closure occurred significantly before the regional arrival of H. sapiens, and all artefacts from within the cave are typical Mousterian lithics; in Western Europe these are uniquely attributed to H. neanderthalensis. We conclude that the LRC engravings are unambiguous examples of Neanderthal abstract design.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Stone age art and now we have art in concrete :)
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