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Neanderthals and humans had 'ample time' to mix, new study says



By FRANK JORDANS

BERLIN (AP) -- Humans and Neanderthals may have coexisted in Europe for more than 5,000 years, providing ample time for the two species to meet and mix, according to new research.

Using new carbon dating techniques and mathematical models, researchers examined about 200 samples found at 40 sites from Spain to Russia, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. They concluded with a high probability that pockets of Neanderthal culture survived until between 41,030 and 39,260 years ago.

Although this puts the disappearance of Neanderthals earlier than some scientists previously thought, the findings support the idea that they lived alongside humans, who arrived in Europe about 45,000-43,000 years ago.

"We believe we now have the first robust timeline that sheds new light on some of the key questions around the possible interactions between Neanderthals and modern humans," said Thomas Higham, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford who led the study.

While it's known that Neanderthal genes have survived in the DNA of many modern humans to this day, suggesting that at least some interbreeding took place, scientists are still unclear about the extent of their contact and the reasons why Neanderthals vanished.

"These new results confirm a long-suspected chronological overlap between the last Neanderthals and the first modern humans in Europe," said Jean-Jacques Hublin, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who wasn't involved in the study.

Apart from narrowing the length of time that the two species existed alongside each other to between 2,600 and 5,400 years, Higham and his colleagues also believe they have shown that Neanderthals and humans largely kept to themselves.

"What we don't see is that there is spatial overlap (in where they settled)," said Higham.

This is puzzling, because there is evidence that late-stage Neanderthals were culturally influenced by modern humans. Samples taken from some Neanderthal sites include artifacts that look like those introduced to Europe by humans migrating from Africa.

This would point to the possibility that Neanderthals - whose name derives from a valley in western Germany - adopted certain human habits and technologies even as they were being gradually pushed out of their territory.

"I think they were eventually outcompeted," said Higham.

Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, cautioned that the study relies to a large degree on testing of stone tools, rather than bones, and these haven't been conclusively linked to particular species, or hominins.

"The results of this impressive dating study are clear, but the assumptions about the association of stone artefact with hominin types underlying the interpretation of the dating results will be undoubtedly rigorously tested in field- and laboratory work over the near future," said Roebroeks, who wasn't involved in the study. "Such testing can now be done with a chronologically clean slate."

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New Dates Rewrite Neanderthal Story

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dal August 21 2014 at 7:31 AM

All one need do is go to Walmart at the first of the month to see living proof the Neanderthal intermingled with humans.

Flag Reply +53 rate up
13 replies
leslie August 21 2014 at 8:02 AM

Looks like Harry Reid and Nancy Polosi before plastic?

Flag Reply +34 rate up
10 replies
redcoat1 August 21 2014 at 7:21 AM

They look like Liberals

Flag Reply +32 rate up
11 replies
kmcc895370 August 21 2014 at 7:09 AM

Well, it appears integration didn't work for them. Hmmm. . . .

Flag Reply +15 rate up
1 reply
Im ShopRat25 kmcc895370 August 21 2014 at 7:58 AM

Actually it did you're here aren't you. lol

Flag Reply +2 rate up
GoldLions August 21 2014 at 9:38 AM

Extinct? There's a plague of them in politics!

Flag Reply +14 rate up
Gene August 21 2014 at 6:47 AM

.......and voila! We have the kneegroids.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
6 replies
mqats August 21 2014 at 8:47 AM

I've seen many stupid, racist comment threads on AOL, but this is probably the worst. Maybe it's because the article itself is also inferior, full of errors. The first obvious one is that Neanderthals were humans... one of many pre homo sapiens species. Another problem with the article (if anyone has actually read it) is that the author is confused about whether the research supports more or less contact between Neanderthals and Cro-magnons.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
6 replies
Practical Nomad August 21 2014 at 7:24 AM

Do you ever wonder how many women see this picture and say, "Hey, that's my Husband"? Actually it's just two members of Congress, (you guessed it, Republicans).

Flag Reply +12 rate up
7 replies
thorrsman August 21 2014 at 6:40 AM

"...providing ample time for the two species to meet and mix, according to new research."

And mate.

I worked with a fellow who merely needed to grow out his hair and beard and he could have posed as a Neanderthal without any make-up at all.

A throw-back to his distant ancestors.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
1 reply
Jeremiah thorrsman August 21 2014 at 9:56 AM

Or to a liberal loon...

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
rouse2434 Jeremiah August 21 2014 at 11:10 AM

The real "loons" are anyone who actually believes the corrupt spew that comes from the mouths of Republican'ts

Flag 0 rate up
flyingfortresb17 Jeremiah August 21 2014 at 4:17 PM

No. his appearance is that of a southern rednecked republican "Christian evangelical" white.

Flag 0 rate up
Bob August 21 2014 at 9:59 AM

So, there goes my best guess about Obama.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
3 replies
aol~~ 1209600

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