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An archaeological excavation at a site near Pulborough has thrown remarkable new light on the life of northern Europe's last Neanderthals.
It provides a snapshot of a thriving, developing population rather than communities on the verge of extinction.

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A new, simplified family tree of humanity, published yesterday, has dealt a blow to those who contend that the enigmatic hominids known as Neanderthals intermingled with our forebears.
Neanderthals were a separate species to Homo sapiens, as anatomically modern humans are known, rather than offshoots of the same species...

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Analysis of a 40,000-year-old tooth found in southern Greece suggests Neanderthals were more mobile than once thought, palaeontologists said Friday.
Analysis of the tooth part of the first and only Neanderthal remains found in Greece showed the ancient human had spent at least part of its life away from the area where it died.

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Neanderthals probably froze to death in the last ice age because rapid climate change caught them by surprise without the tools needed to make warm clothes, finds new research. Ian Gilligan, a postgraduate researcher from the Australian National University argues his case in the current issue of the journal World Archaeology. By the time some Neanderthals developed sewing tools it was too little too late.
 Neanderthals began to die out just before the last glacial maximum, 35,000 to 30,000 years ago and were replaced by modern humans. Previous studies have argued that one of the key reasons for this is that modern humans had better hunting tools, providing them with the extra food they needed to survive the cold. But Gilligan disagrees that the development of hunting tools was so important to modern humans' survival over the Neanderthals. For a start, he argues, Neanderthals were already successful hunters, surviving in Europe and Eurasia for over 100,000 years. Most of the tools supposed to have given modern humans the edge over Neanderthals were actually more useful for making warm clothes.
The important tools developed by modern humans included stone blades, bone points and eventually needles, which could cut and pierce hides to sew them together into multi-layered clothes including underwear.

 "They're not related to hunting, they're related to clothing. These tools are related to tailored, fitted clothing, what I call complex clothing" - Ian Gilligan

Modern humans were more vulnerable to the cold than Neanderthals and developed these tools as far back as 90,000 years ago to cope with cooler parts of Africa, before the peak of the ice age.
But Neanderthals were physically more resistant to the cold. Because of this they were quite happy before the ice age to get around in similar temperatures wearing little less than single-layered loosely-draped animal hides. This gave Neanderthals no pressing need to develop complex clothing. But when the peak of the ice age came, it was a shock.
 Over brief periods, the average temperature would plunge by more than 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) and then warm again before plunging once again into ultra-cold territory. Neanderthals were unable to adapt their clothing in response to such rapid climate change. While there is evidence that some Neanderthals in France started to develop sewing tools, this would not have been enough to save the species.

Source:  Discovery Channel


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Some Neanderthals were probably redheads, a DNA study has shown.
Writing in Science journal, a team of researchers extracted DNA from remains of two Neanderthals and retrieved part of an important gene called MC1R.
In modern people, a change - or mutation - in this gene causes red hair, but, until now, no one knew what hair colour our extinct relatives had.

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This planet faced a global catastrophe 30,000 years ago as a result of which mankind was destroyed by humans themselves. The phenomenon known today as genocide that began 30,000 years ago when homo sapiens came across a unique independent type of humans and destroyed them to seize more space on the planet.

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Researchers delving into the DNA of Neanderthal remains have found the human form of a gene crucial for the development of language.
The result indicates that this modern form of the gene could have appeared much earlier than previously thought in the ancestors of humans and Neanderthals. However, the presence of this gene alone does not guarantee that Neanderthals actually spoke to each other using anything that we would classify as a language. Studies of their anatomy havent answered this question either: a bone in the Neanderthal throat called the hyoid resembles the human form, but the inner ear appears different.

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Were Neanderthals direct ancestors of contemporary humans or an evolutionary side branch that eventually died out? This is one of the enduring questions in human evolution as scientists explore the relationship of fossil groups, such as Neanderthals, with people alive today. Two recent papers describing the sequencing of Neanderthal nuclear DNA from fossil bone held promise for finally answering this question. However, the two studies came to very different conclusions regarding the ancestral role of Neanderthals. Jeffrey D. Wall and Sung K. Kim from University of California San Francisco now reveal in PLoS Genetics what they found when they reanalysed the data from the two original studies.
Wall and Kims reanalysis reveals inconsistencies between them and they believe that possible contamination with modern human DNA and/or a high rate of sequencing errors compromised the findings of one of the original Neanderthal DNA studies. The authors therefore recommend that we carefully evaluate published and future data before arriving at any firm conclusions about human evolution.

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Neanderthals, the stocky kin of modern humans, were far more widespread geographically than previously thought, with some trekking into southern Siberia before vanishing about 30,000 years ago, scientists said on Monday.
Researchers led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, found that Neanderthals spread 1,250 miles further east than scientists had commonly believed.
The scientists used genetic tests to determine that three fragmentary bones previously found in the Altai region of southern Siberia were indeed those of a Neanderthal. They also confirmed that a child's skeletal remains from Teshik-Tash in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan were from a Neanderthal.

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