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Actually, the Neanderthals did hang around for awhile

Thumbnail for version as of 09:38, 22 December 2009
Kermanshah Pal Museum

Around the Arctic Circle.

In this latest episode of history’s longest running soap, human evolution, we learn that remains of Mousterian (Neanderthal) culture have been found in Polar Urals in northern Russia, dated at over 28,500 years old (more than 8,000 years later than Neanderthals are thought to have died out), challenging previous theories.

From ScienceDaily, we learn:

The distinguishing feature of Mousterian culture, which developed during the Middle Palaeolithic (-300,000 to -33,000 years), is the use of a very wide range of flint tools, mainly by Neanderthal Man in Eurasia, but also by Homo sapiens in the Near East. – “Last Neanderthals Near the Arctic Circle?” (May 13, 2011)

The theory had been that Neanderthals were too stupid to learn how to survive so far north. Anyway, in another episode they died out “some 33,000 to 36,000 years ago.”

Mystery: ” … the Byzovaya site, in Eurasia, seems only to have been occupied once, approximately 28,500 years ago, which is over 8,000 years after Neanderthals were thought to have disappeared.” Perhaps they were nomads and just migrated a lot? Nomad life is almost inevitable in the high latitudes, absent modern technology.

Some hope that the solution is that they were modern humans after all.

Don’t forget to enter the contest: For a free copy of The The Nature of Nature mailed to your home: Do you think we understand the human-Neanderthal relationship better than we did twenty-five years ago? In what ways?

When I was a kid, there was another kid in my Scout troop who looked just like the "Neanderthals" in the diorama (which depicted one of the old views of Neanderthals) at the Field Museum of Natural History. So, I’ve always been skeptical that Neanderthals were a separate species. It seems like comparing a fossilized Great Dane to a fossilized Pug and decreeing that they were of two distinct species. Ilion

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