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Archaeologists rediscover the lost home of the last Neanderthals

A record of Neanderthal archaeology, thought to be long lost, has been re-discovered by NERC-funded scientists working in the Channel island of Jersey.
The study, published today in the Journal of Quaternary Science, reveals that a key archaeological site has preserved geological deposits which were thought to have been lost through excavation 100 years ago.
The discovery was made when the team undertook fieldwork to stabilise and investigate a portion of the La Cotte de St Brelade cave, on Jersey's south eastern coastline.
A large portion of the site contains sediments dating to the last Ice Age, preserving 250,000 years of climate change and archaeological evidence.

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Handaxe design reveals distinct Neanderthal cultures

A study by a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton has found that Neanderthals were more culturally complex than previously acknowledged. Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago.



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Infant tooth reveals Neanderthal breastfeeding habits

The changing ratios of calcium and barium in the teeth of modern humans and macaques chronicle the transition from mother's milk to solid food - and may provide clues about the weaning habits of Neanderthals, a new study suggests.
The study's most intriguing data may be those gleaned from the tooth of a Neanderthal infant. The results suggest that the infant was exclusively breastfed for a little over 7 months, and then the mother's milk was supplemented with other food for another 7 months. After that, barium levels dropped rapidly, suggesting a sudden end to breastfeeding.
Manish Arora says that 14 months is relatively early to wean a child: humans in non-industrial societies stop breastfeeding at an average age of about 2.5 years.
 
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Study sheds new light on Neanderthals' brain development

Eleven of the 13 Neanderthals who lived in northern Spain's El Sidron cave were right-handed, indicating that these cousins of modern humans had a brain structure similar to that of Homo sapiens, a study published in Plos One magazine said.
Researchers, among them members of Spain's CSIC research council, analysed grooves in more than 60 Neanderthal dental pieces.
 
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Title: Handedness in Neandertals from the El Sidrón (Asturias, Spain): Evidence from Instrumental Striations with Ontogenetic Inferences
Authors: Almudena Estalrrich, Antonio Rosas

The developed cognitive capabilities for Homo sapiens seems to be the result of a specialized and lateralised brain, and as a result of this, humans display the highest degree of manual specialisation or handedness among the primates. Studies regarding its emergence and distribution within the genus Homo show that handedness is present very early. The mode in which it was articulated and spread across the different species during the course of human evolution could provide information about our own cognitive capacities. Here we report the manual laterality attributed to eleven 49,000 old Neandertal individuals from El Sidrón cave (Spain), through the study of instrumental or cultural striations on the anterior dentition. Our results show a predominant pattern addressed to right-handers. These results fit within the modern human handedness distribution pattern and provide indirect evidence for behaviour and brain lateralisation on Neandertals. They support the early establishment of handedness in our genus. Moreover, the individual identified as Juvenile 1 (68 years old at death), displays the same striation pattern as the adult Neandertals from the sample, and thereby the ontogenic development of manual laterality in that Neandertal population seems to be similar to that of living modern humans.

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The Neanderthals

Thu, 17 Jun 10

Duration: 43 mins

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the evolution and characteristics of the Neanderthals. Guests include Danielle Schreve, Chris Stringer and Simon Conway Morris.

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Neanderthals 'died out earlier than previously thought'

Since the 1990s, scholars have believed that around 35,000 years ago the last of the Neanderthals sought refuge in southern Iberia, in an area known as Spain today. However, new dating evidence on fossilised bones from sites in the region suggests that the fossils could be 15,000 years older than previously thought.
The findings, which have implications for whether Neanderthals and modern humans co-existed, are published in the early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Last-stand Neanderthals queried

We may need to look again at the idea that a late Neanderthal population existed in southern Spain as recently as 35,000 years ago, a study suggests. Scientists using a "more reliable" form of radiocarbon dating have re-assessed fossils from the region and found them to be far older than anyone thought.
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George Church, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, says he's close to cloning a Neanderthal baby - the first in more than 30,000 years. Speaking to Der Spiegel, Church said that once such cloning technology has matured, all he would need is an "adventurous female human" to act as a surrogate.
Reviving an extinct human ancestor may seem like a ludicrous premise, but it's not as farfetched as it may seem. Church says he's already extracted enough fossil DNA to reconstruct the DNA of a Neanderthal child, and he's been very outspoken about the feasibility of bringing one to term.

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Neanderthals 'learned to make jewellery and tools from modern humans'

Neanderthals learned how to make jewellery and sophisticated tools from the ancestors of modern humans, a new study suggests.
New high precision radiocarbon dating shows that a cultural exchange may have taken place between modern humans and Neanderthals in France and Spain more than 40,000 years ago, the Daily Mail reported.

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La Ferrassie 1
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How scientists recreated Neanderthal man

A team of scientists has created what it believes is the first really accurate reconstruction of Neanderthal man, from a skeleton that was discovered in France over a century ago.
In 1909, excavations at La Ferrassie cave in the Dordogne unearthed the remains of a group of Neanderthals. One of the skeletons in that group was that of an adult male, given the name La Ferrassie 1.

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