French excavation reveals Neanderthal 'creative side'
Monday 28 August 2006
Neanderthals were much more advanced than has been thought, according to a new examination of finds from a famous cave site that indicates that the creatures designed and made their own jewellery.
It had been assumed ornaments found with their bones were "borrowed" from ancestors of modern humans, or copied. This is now believed to have been a mistake.
Neanderthals lived in Europe long before the early modern humans, Homo sapiens, 40,000 years ago. The two sub-species existed side-by-side for about 10,000 years, after which the Neanderthals vanished.
Research has shown that the two sub-species were genetically different. Neanderthals used stone tools, but experts are divided about whether they were capable of abstract thought, associated with signs of creativity, such as art works and decoration.
The new research centres on the Grotte de Fées, a cave at Châtelperron in central France, first excavated in 1840. The fossil evidence suggests a late population of Neanderthals returned to the cave after modern humans had been living there for some time.
This is thought to explain the sophisticated artefacts found with their remains. But, writing in an online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, French and British scientists argue that the supposed evidence of late Neanderthal occupation was in fact "backdirt" from 19th century fossil hunting. They say the finds belonged to Neanderthals who lived there 44,000 years ago. That would mean they were making decorated bone points and items of jewellery before modern humans arrived in Europe from Africa.
Professor Joao Zilhao, from the University of Bristol, said the discovery had huge implications for views on European Neanderthals, and human evolution.
- 1 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 2 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...