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Did Neanderthals Believe in an Afterlife?

Evidence for a likely 50,000-year-old Neanderthal burial ground that includes the remains of at least three individuals has been unearthed in Spain, according to a Quaternary International paper.
The deceased appear to have been intentionally buried, with each Neanderthal's arms folded such that the hands were close to the head. Remains of other Neanderthals have been found in this position, suggesting that it held meaning.
Neanderthals therefore may have conducted burials and possessed symbolic thought before modern humans had these abilities. The site, Sima de las Palomas in Murcia, Southeast Spain, may also be the first known Neanderthal burial ground of Mediterranean Europe.

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Neanderthals were nifty at controlling fire

A new study involving the University of Colorado Boulder shows clear evidence of the continuous control of fire by Neanderthals in Europe dating back roughly 400,000 years, yet another indication that they weren't dimwitted brutes as often portrayed.
The conclusion comes from the study of scores of ancient archaeological research sites in Europe that show convincing evidence of long-term fire control by Neanderthals, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Villa co-authored a paper on the new study with Professor Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands.

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Prehistoric tools in Greek highlands may have been used by some of Europe's last Neanderthals

High in the wind-swept mountain ridges of northern Greece, archaeologists have made a surprising discovery: hundreds of prehistoric stone tools that may have been used by some of the last Neanderthals in Europe, at a time when hunter-gatherers were thought to have kept to much lower altitudes.
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Did Neanderthals use feathers for fashion?

Italy has ruled the fashion world for longer than we thought. That, at least, is the claim of archaeologists who say they have evidence that Neanderthals were using feathers as ornaments 44,000 years ago. The tenuous claim adds fuel to the debate over whether our distant cousins were simple brutes or as cultured as Homo sapiens.
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Fossilised food stuck in Neandertal teeth indicates plant-rich diet

Ancient humans' lax dental hygiene has been a boon for researchers looking for clues about early diets. Traces of fossilised foodstuffs wedged between Neandertal teeth have revealed plentiful traces of grains and other plants, supporting the theory that these heavy-browed humans were not just meat-eaters.
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Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables

Neanderthals cooked and ate plants and vegetables, a new study of Neanderthal remains reveals.
Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in their teeth.
The study is the first to confirm that the Neanderthal diet was not confined to meat and was more sophisticated than previously thought.

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Archaeologists in Spain have unearthed the remains of a possible family of 12 Neanderthals who were killed 49,000 years ago.
Markings on the bones show the unmistakeable signs of cannibal activity, say the researchers, with the group having probably been killed by their peers.
The remains were found in a cave in the Asturias region of Northern Spain. Details of the find appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Neanderthals crafted earliest tool made from human bone

Scientists have discovered the earliest known tool made from human bone- and it was apparently crafted by Neanderthals.
They have identified a human skull fragment dating back at least 50,000 years that bears signs it was used as a sharpener. It was found in a Neanderthal deposit - the first time our relatives were discovered making tools from human bone.

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The brains of Neanderthals and modern humans developed differently

Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have documented species differences in the pattern of brain development after birth that are likely to contribute to cognitive differences between modern humans and Neanderthals.
The brains of Neanderthals and modern humans are very similar at the time of birth. A reconstruction of a Neanderthal baby is compared to a modern human newborn. While the face of the Neanderthal is already larger than in a modern human at the time of birth, their brain shapes and volumes are very similar. Internal casts of brain cavities of skulls provide information about the relative size and form of the brain.

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Volcanoes Killed Off Neanderthals

Catastrophic volcanic eruptions in Europe may have culled Neanderthals to the point where they couldn't bounce back, according to a controversial new theory.
Modern humans, though, squeaked by, thanks to fallback populations in Africa and Asia, researchers say.
About 40,000 years ago in what we now call Italy and the Caucasus Mountains, which straddle Europe and Asia, several volcanoes erupted in quick succession, according to a new study to be published in the October issue of the journal Current Anthropology.

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