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Archaeologists find 400,000-year-old human skull in central Portugal

An international team of archaeologists have discovered the oldest human fossil ever found in Portugal, a skull about 400,000 years old, Portuguese Lusa News Agency reported on Monday.
The archaeologists led by Joao Zilhao, a Portuguese national, found the skull in a cave of Aroeira, Torres Novas, in central Portugual, and presented their findings on Monday in a study published in this week's issue of the bulletin of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

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 New Middle Pleistocene hominin cranium from Gruta da Aroeira (Portugal)

The Middle Pleistocene is a crucial time period for studying human evolution in Europe, because it marks the appearance of both fossil hominins ancestral to the later Neandertals and the Acheulean technology. Nevertheless, European sites containing well-dated human remains associated with an Acheulean toolkit remain scarce. The earliest European hominin crania associated with Acheulean handaxes are at the sites of Arago, Atapuerca Sima de los Huesos (SH), and Swanscombe, dating to 400-500 ka (Marine Isotope Stage 11-12). The Atapuerca (SH) fossils and the Swanscombe cranium belong to the Neandertal clade, whereas the Arago hominins have been attributed to an incipient stage of Neandertal evolution, to Homo heidelbergensis, or to a subspecies of Homo erectus. A recently discovered cranium (Aroeira 3) from the Gruta da Aroeira (Almonda karst system, Portugal) dating to 390-436 ka provides important evidence on the earliest European Acheulean-bearing hominins. This cranium is represented by most of the right half of a calvarium (with the exception of the missing occipital bone) and a fragmentary right maxilla preserving part of the nasal floor and two fragmentary molars. The combination of traits in the Aroeira 3 cranium augments the previously documented diversity in the European Middle Pleistocene fossil record.

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New insight into secret lives of Neanderthals

Neanderthals dosed themselves with painkillers and possibly penicillin, according to a study of their teeth.
One sick Neanderthal chewed the bark of the poplar tree, which contains a chemical related to aspirin.
He may also have been using penicillin, long before antibiotics were developed.
The evidence comes from ancient DNA found in the dental tartar of Neanderthals living about 40,000 years ago in central Europe.

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Neanderthals built mysterious cave structures 175,000 years ago

Mysterious structures found deep inside a French cave are the work of Neanderthal builders who lived in the region more than 100,000 years before modern humans set foot in Europe.
The extraordinary constructions are made from nearly 400 stalagmites that have been yanked from the ground and stacked on top of one another to produce rudimentary walls on the damp cave floor.

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Modern humans and Neanderthals 'interbred in Europe'

Modern humans and Neanderthals interbred in Europe, an analysis of 40,000-year-old DNA suggests.
The study suggests an early Homo sapiens settler in Europe harboured a Neanderthal ancestor just a few generations back in his family line.
Previous work has shown our ancestors had interbred with Neanderthals 55,000 years ago, possibly in the Middle East.

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Bone Tool Made By Neanderthals Found in France

Our current understanding of human evolution and behaviour may change completely, now that University of Montreal researchers have discovered a bone tool from the Neanderthal era which appears to have had multiple uses. The tool was found at an archaeological site in France.
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Scientists have unearthed rare, ancient human remains in silts close to the River Seine in France.
The left arm bones are dated to about 200,000 years ago, and look to be Neanderthal - although the researchers say that with no other fossils it is impossible to make a full description.

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Neanderthal 'artwork' found in Gibraltar cave

An engraving found at a cave in Gibraltar may be the most compelling evidence yet for Neanderthal art.
The pattern, which bears a passing resemblance to the grid for a game of noughts and crosses, was inscribed on a rock at the back of Gorham's Cave.

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New dates rewrite Neanderthal story

Modern humans and Neanderthals co-existed in Europe 10 times longer than previously thought, a study suggests.
The most comprehensive dating of Neanderthal bones and tools ever carried out suggests that the two species lived side-by-side for up to 5,000 years.
The new evidence suggests that the two groups may even have exchanged ideas and culture, say the researchers.

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Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables

Analysis of the oldest reported trace of human faeces has added weight to the view that Neanderthals ate vegetables.
Found at a dig in Spain, the ancient excrement showed chemical traces of both meat and plant digestion.

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Neanderthals were not inferior to modern humans, says CU-Boulder study

The widely held notion that Neanderthals were dimwitted and that their inferior intelligence allowed them to be driven to extinction by the much brighter ancestors of modern humans is not supported by scientific evidence, according to a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Neanderthals thrived in a large swath of Europe and Asia between about 350,000 and 40,000 years ago. They disappeared after our ancestors, a group referred to as "anatomically modern humans," crossed into Europe from Africa.

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