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More Human-Neandertal Mixing Evidence Uncovered

Date:
November 6, 2006
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
A reexamination of ancient human bones from Romania reveals more evidence that humans and Neandertals interbred. Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., Washington University Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor in Arts & Sciences, and colleagues radiocarbon-dated and analyzed the shapes of human bones from Romania's Petera Muierii (Cave of the Old Woman). The fossils, discovered in 1952, add to the small number of early modern human remains from Europe known to be more than 28,000 years old.

Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences, examines a Neandertal skull.
Credit: Photo by Joe Angeles/WUSTL photo

A reexamination of ancient human bones from Romania reveals more evidence that humans and Neandertals interbred.

Erik Trinkaus, Ph.D., Washington University Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor in Arts & Sciences, and colleagues radiocarbon-dated and analyzed the shapes of human bones from Romania's Petera Muierii (Cave of the Old Woman). The fossils, discovered in 1952, add to the small number of early modern human remains from Europe known to be more than 28,000 years old.

Results were published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The team found that the fossils were 30,000 years old and principally have the diagnostic skeletal features of modern humans. They also found that the remains had other features known, among potential ancestors, primarily among the preceding Neandertals, providing more evidence there was mixing of humans and Neandertals as modern humans dispersed across Europe about 35,000 years ago. Their analysis of one skeleton's shoulder blade also shows that these humans did not have the full set of anatomical adaptations for throwing projectiles, like spears, during hunting.

The team says that the mixture of human and Neandertal features indicates that there was a complicated reproductive scenario as humans and Neandertals mixed, and that the hypothesis that the Neandertals were simply replaced should be abandoned.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "More Human-Neandertal Mixing Evidence Uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061103083616.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2006, November 6). More Human-Neandertal Mixing Evidence Uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061103083616.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "More Human-Neandertal Mixing Evidence Uncovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061103083616.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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